The buzz surrounding the United Airlines’ handling of an overbooking has not waned after three days of outrage, finger-pointing, and defensive posturing. United stock is plummeting like an anvil tossed from a rowboat. I have heard, and read arguments from both sides of this story, and both sides have legitimate points to make. What is not arguable is that this is a public relations nightmare for United Airlines, and I suspect the full extent of the damage remains to be seen. The reality is, United has done us a great service by demonstrating the damaging effects of a bad witness.
Closer to home, and on a smaller scale, Alean and I have yet to return to either of two local restaurants where we received, not just bad service, but shockingly bad service from those whom we believe to be the owners of the restaurants – foul, rude – service at such an offensive level that we should have walked out without paying our bill. Friends and locals rave about these establishments, and I suspect we simply caught the owners on particularly bad days. It is probably true that these are wonderful places to eat, but for us, the reputation is sullied, and we have yet to return.
The cliché is true, that we never get a second chance to make a first impression. Cleverly put, and true to the core.
Those of us in the body of Christ are the face of Christ to the world. We are ambassadors for Christ (2nd Corinthians 5:20). As such we must make every effort to avoid delivering the right message in the wrong way. Peter says it in this way:
“Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” (1st Peter 2:12 – NIV 1984).
There must be something so glaringly obvious in the way I live my life, that those who wish to slander me actually end up glorifying God instead. This goes far beyond non-believers looking at me and saying, “Yeah, he’s a pretty good guy.” No. This is an antagonistic, non-believing community that looks at my life (and yours) and concludes, “His God is awesome!”
I am reminded of the story of Daniel wherein his adversaries were struggling to bring him down but were unable to do so, because his behavior was unimpeachable. In the end, they could draw only one conclusion:
“We will not find any ground of accusation against this Daniel unless we find it against him with regard to the law of his God.” (Daniel 6:5 – NASB)
As ambassadors for Christ, we know several things to be true:
- We live in a land that is not our native home.
- We are responsible to represent a land that is foreign to the land in which we reside, and to represent it in the most positive light possible.
- We speak on behalf of a master/leader who is not physically present.
- We are called to comply with laws and customs of our host land while embodying the character of our homeland, and while not compromising our convictions, principles, or values.
- Our message is one of calling men and women to renounce citizenship of their nation, and to proclaim loyalty to a completely different kingdom – in essence to commit treason against their own “kingdom” in this world.
That is a sobering list of realities – one that requires prayerful reflection.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden … Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14, 16)
Victoriously in Christ!
Over to you: How do you engage as an ambassador for Christ in a land that is not your own?