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  • Writer's picturePaul Cho

More than a Slave and a Prisoner: God's Ambassador.

A few years ago, I visited a Canadian embassy in Seoul, Korea while traveling there. Canadian ambassadors in foreign countries, like the one in Seoul, are there to represent and further Canadian values and interests, not to work for the host country's government. This is the role of an ambassador: to live in a foreign country, but represent their home country's values and agenda to the host country. They are called to bring their home country's rule to the foreign country.

Similarly, as Christians, we are called to live as Kingdom ambassadors in this world through our work. Our role is to represent and further the values and interests of God's Kingdom, not necessarily the values and interests of the world we live in. Just as an ambassador must be intentional about representing their home country, we too must be intentional about representing God's Kingdom in everything we do.

Created in God's Image

In Genesis 1:27, God states that he has created us in His image. But what does it mean to be created in God’s image? Firstly, it means that we are created for a relationship with God. As we bear God’s likeness within us, He desires to have a loving relationship with us, just as a child who bears the parents’ likeness enjoys a loving relationship with their parents.

Secondly, being created in God’s image means that we are created for reflection of God to the world. A child born with their parents’ likeness reflects their parents' image when they talk and act like their parents. Similarly, being created in God’s image means that we are created to have a relationship with God and to reflect who God is to the world.

So, what would this concept look like when applied to our work?

Joseph as a Slave

In Genesis 39, Joseph is going through the darkest time of his life. He was betrayed by his own brothers, sold as a slave, and was living as a stranger in Egypt. There, he started his first job as a slave in Potiphar's house. One might wonder what meaning the work of a slave could have, but Genesis 39:2-3 states:

The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, and he was in the house of his Egyptian master. His master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord caused all that he did to succeed in his hands.

In this passage, we see Joseph working in the image of God. Firstly, he works in a close relationship with God, as it is written, "The Lord was with Joseph." Even in the foreign and unfamiliar land of Egypt, Joseph continued to walk closely with God on a daily basis. Furthermore, Joseph's work reflected who God is to the world. Joseph's master observed God in him, saying "the Lord was with him.”

Joseph as a Prisoner

Later in the chapter, Joseph was once again betrayed by Potiphar’s wife and found himself living as a prisoner. One might wonder what meaning the work of a prisoner could possibly have. However, it is said again later in Genesis 39:21-23

But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners who were in the prison. Whatever was done there, he was the one who did it. The keeper of the prison paid no attention to anything that was in Joseph's charge, because the Lord was with him. And whatever he did, the Lord made it succeed.

Even as a prisoner, Joseph worked in the image of God and had a close relationship with Him. It is written that "The Lord was with Joseph" even in prison. Joseph walked intimately with God in love and trust. Because of God's presence, Joseph's work was successful, as he reflected God's image in the prison cells.

More than a Slave & a Prisoner: God's Ambassador

In both his time as a slave and as a prisoner, Joseph served as God's ambassador. Despite the difficult circumstances, Joseph maintained a close relationship with God and trusted that the Lord was with him. Through this relationship, God worked through Joseph to bring blessings to Egypt. Joseph's work went beyond that of a typical slave or prisoner; he served as an ambassador, reflecting and representing God's rule in Egypt. His success was a clear indication to the people that God was working through him. Even in the midst of slavery and imprisonment, Joseph lived as God's image bearer and ambassador, bringing God's rule to the land of Egypt.

In our workplaces, we are called to be God's ambassadors. This means working in a close relationship with God and striving to reflect and represent God's presence to the world. A good ambassador ensures they maintain a close connection with their home country's government, allowing them to effectively represent the home country's interests to foreign nations. Similarly, God's ambassador walks in a close relationship with God, allowing them to reflect God's presence to the world. Through our work in the world, we establish an embassy that advances God's kingdom on earth.

A few years ago, my dad passed away. Many of his friends say that I look like him and that seeing me reminds them of the precious memories they shared with him. I wonder, when people see us at work or out in the world, will they say what the Egyptians said about Joseph: "God is with him"?

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