EXTEND

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
— 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

What would you do if you woke up in a whole new life? Like a movie character who opens her eyes to discover she has been transported to a new reality—only it’s your life. You’d quickly ask: “Where am I? Who am I? What am I supposed to do?” Imagine getting your bearings and discovering that you’re in a new place with a new assignment. You’ve been sent to a foreign country to represent the interests of the United States. It dawns on you: “I’m an ambassador.” As you walk the streets, you realize that you’re in a strange place with unfamiliar people all around you. These people don’t seem to share your interests or passions. Your mind begins to race: “What do I say? How do I represent home in this place?”

This scenario, which seems worlds away, is really the daily reality for those who are in Christ. When Christians open their eyes each day, they wake up in a whole new life. Paul says, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.” We have new answers to old questions, because the old has gone and the new has come. So where are we? We are in Christ, and we are here, but our relationship to this place has changed. Who are we? We are a new creation thanks to the reconciling, renewing grace of Jesus Christ. And what are we supposed to do? We are no longer to live for ourselves, but for Him who died for us and was raised again. We have a new home, a new identity, and a new mission. In short, a whole new life. The Lord has sent us to a strange place, not to represent ourselves, but Him. Have we really grasped the significance of being Christ’s ambassadors?

As much as we long for something novel, most of the time we just need a reminder. In the next six weeks, we’ll be reminded of the kind of vision that should frame every day of our lives. It’s a vision that is easy to say but hard to live. We say that “we exist to extend the transforming presence of the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ in Dallas and to the world”, but what does it mean to live that? It means moving from words on a page to lives on a mission. It means embracing our calling as ambassadors. It means seeking to extend ourselves for the sake of the gospel. It means rejoicing that we are now involved in the most significant thing happening in the world: God’s ministry of reconciliation. 

The vision of EXTEND is more a return than a revolution. As we always do, we return to the good news that Jesus, through His incarnation, death, and resurrection, has extended Himself to us. Paul writes, “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” The cross is the ultimate picture of what it means to extend. Jesus exerted Himself to the utmost. He took our sin upon Himself and held out His grace to us. And through His loving sacrifice and the power of His Spirit, He continues to cause His transforming presence to cover an ever-expanding area.

As we reflect on the Gospel, we’re reminded of what the Lord did for us and what He intends to do through us. The Lord could accomplish His purposes however He wants, but Paul says that God has committed to us the message of reconciliation. As we think about the world that needs Jesus Christ, it’s as though God is making His appeal through us. If we have received His message, we have become His messengers. Wherever we go, the Lord is calling us to be His ambassadors, to extend ourselves so that the world might catch a glimpse of the One who extended Himself. The vision of extending has always been with us as a church, but the Lord has given us this season to realign our hearts with His. And as we do, our prayer is that the Lord would transform us, our city, and the world.

In this season, we believe the Lord is calling us to pray bold prayers and to dream big dreams. So let’s ask the Lord, “How are You calling us to extend?” And let’s dream of how the Lord might use us to open new doors, to plant new churches, and to usher in a new city. Brothers and sisters, we serve a God who raises the dead, who turns enemies into ambassadors. When we realize that we have a whole new life in Christ, what will we do? Will we take the time to stop? Will we create the space to listen? Will we pray for the grace to follow wherever the Lord leads?

By Robby Higginbottom, assistant pastor of college ministry, Park Cities Presbyterian Church.