Being roundly criticized for its handling of the Benghazi embassy attack, facing the continued threat of “Arab Spring,” ongoing awkwardness in dealing with foreign powers like China and Russia, and now replacing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the new administration is going to be challenged by foreign affairs issues in the foreseeable future. It is an important issue because how we handle ourselves with the rest of the world determines our strength and weakness as a nation. Proper diplomacy is key!
Churches and Christians in them continually face a similar challenge in interacting with non-believers and that system of thought identified in Scripture as “the world.” New Testament writers identify the Lord’s church as “a holy nation” (1 Pet. 2:9), but we are also said to be “aliens and strangers” in this world (1 Pet. 2:11). Inasmuch as diplomats are those tasked with managing international relations and representing their country abroad, we must understand as mission as “ambassadors for Christ” (cf. 2 Cor. 5:20). Peter gives us insight into how to improve our “foreign diplomacy.”
First, share generously (1 Pet. 2:9). Because of the important role we fill, chosen, royal, holy, and “possessed by God,” we need to “come to the table” ready to share. Whether the world realizes it or not, they are poor in the most dire way possible. Peter tells us to “proclaim the excellencies of Him” to the world.
Second, humbly recognize the importance of your status (1 Pet. 2:10). Instead of being pompous and arrogant, we will feel the weight of our responsibility. We represent God to the world, which is spiritually blind, deaf, and ignorant of the Bible and its teaching. We also realize that we were once in darkness (2:9) and we have a checkered past (2:10). This should make us more vigilant and determined as we reach out to the world.
Third, distinguish yourself in conduct (1 Pet. 2:11-12a). According to these verses, that means avoiding what will lead us to self-destruct (“fleshly lusts”) and putting our best foot forward with the world (“keep your behavior excellent”). You will be watched more closely, held to a higher, stricter standard, and criticized just for the “post” you hold. You will even endure “slander…as evildoers.”
Finally, serve with honor and distinction (1 Pet. 2:12b). Criticisms can be weathered. Accusations can be proven specious. Conduct is the key. Because “of your good deeds, as they observe them,” they will “glorify God in the day of visitation.” Stay true to what you know is right. Jesus said, “Yet wisdom is vindicated by all her children” (Lk. 7:35). In other words, time will tell through the fruit of your deeds, as you remain focused on your mission.
It is hard to say how the President and his cabinet will deal with their foreign diplomacy challenges. Let us pray for them. Meanwhile, let us stay focused on the indispensable role we have in that “holy nation” of the church! That work impacts eternities.