In the post, Are You an Ambassador or a King? we considered our role as represenatives of Jesus and how our failure to understand that role creates conflict. Unfortunately, deciding to live as an ambassador instead of a king, doesn't solve our problems. Actually, it only increases them, because representing Jesus means we must love people in the context of "messy relationships."
Again, I'd like to point you to an observation Paul David Tripp makes in Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands by Paul David Tripp:
relationships between sinners are messy, difficult, labor-intensive, and demanding but in that, they are desigened to result in God's glory and our good as he is worshiped and our hearts are changed. Effective personal ministry begins when we confess that we have taken realtionships that belong to God and used them for our selfish purposes. (Instruments in the Redeemers Hands, p120)
Here is the issue for us. Are we willing to extend the love of Christ to people in the midst of messy and difficult relationships? In order to do so, we need to make a number of commitments.
- We have to be willing to sacrifice our own plans and desires to enter their world and meet their needs. I'm sure it wasn't easy for Jesus to leave the glory of Heaven to seek and save sinners–but in love–He did.
- We have to understand that God is sovereign and puts people in our life for both their good and ours. The challenges of loving others reveal our own sin and need of grace. They are designed by God as part of the process of conforming us to the image of Jesus.
- We have to be willing to extend the same love, patience and grace to others that Jesus does to us.
This type of love isn't easy. It is "messy" and hard. But, it is the type of love Jesus calls us to.