Ambassadors assume posts
BY LT. COL. DOUGLAS O’BRIEN –
There’s a kind of mystique about anyone who has been appointed an ambassador. There is a feeling of special privilege, special responsibility–and it all emanates from the one whom the ambassador represents.
I’ve never met an ambassador of state, but I have met a consul-general who represented the Queen of England. I imagined that he knew her majesty, that he talked to her, understood her intentions, and he acted on her behalf.
Of course, a United States ambassador represents the President of the United States. It is the aura of the President that is imputed to his ambassador. But the privilege of an ambassador is not without its responsibilities.
U.S. State Department documents outline the responsibilities of an ambassador. Actually, they describe the responsibilities of anyone who serves in the United States diplomatic corps.
Ambassadors are first and foremost:
…working professionals who are dedicated to representing America’s interests–and responding to the needs of American citizens.
That’s an accurate description of God’s “Ambassadors of Grace.” The dedication of these “Ambassadors of Grace” and their real desire to respond to the needs of people with the grace of God is characteristic of them.
The State Department expects that an ambassador:
…changes posts every few years, and each new post may require an officer to learn a new language, assume new job responsibilities, adapt to a new culture, and develop new friendships.
These “Ambassadors of Grace” expect that they may frequently change posts, that they may need to immerse themselves in new cultures and languages, that each new appointment will have new responsibilities–and that they will have opportunities to introduce new friends to the grace of God. The State Department description could have been lifted right out of Orders and Regulations for Officers of The Salvation Army.
The State Department puts its diplomatic corps on notice that:
…during their careers, (ambassadors) may be asked to serve in hardship posts.
Now we’re getting to the nitty-gritty. Can these “Ambassadors of Grace” handle all the hardship that is likely to come their way? The simple answer is that they will never cope with the hardships that seek to overwhelm them–except by the grace of God. But the grace of God is what they claim for themselves and it is the gift they bring to the needy people around them. They are “Ambassadors of Grace.”
The State Department knows that the career of an ambassador:
…requires flexibility and adaptability. (An ambassador) must be willing to accept out-of-function assignments and duties, as the needs of the Service demand.
That’s how an Ambassador of Grace understands the role of an officer in The Salvation Army. An officer should be ready to preach or pray, balance the books, cry with someone who’s hurting, rally the soldiers ’round the flag, and roll up his or her sleeves to do the extra ordinary task. For God’s sake, they’re willing to do whatever needs to be done. That’s an ambassador–an Ambassador of Grace.
Finally, U.S. ambassadors must:
…support and defend publicly United States foreign policy.
That “support and defend publicly” has a little edge to it for some people. But of course that’s the reputation of The Salvation Army. We Salvationists never lose an opportunity to support and defend our faith: gospel shots, uniforms, banners, open-air meetings and marches through town all publicly testify to God’s grace. As a result of our public displays, everybody knows something about The Salvation Army–and the ones who need us most, know us best.
So here they are–newly commissioned captains, “Ambassadors of Grace.” They’re committed and they care about people. They’re ready to embrace the challenges of new communities and different cultures. They’re ready to accept hardship. They’re ready to get to work and they want desperately to share their faith in God’s grace.
These are ambassadors–God’s “Ambassadors of Grace.”