The church is like a foreign embassy. Take the British embassy in Washington, D.C, for example. While located within the geographical boundaries of America, the British embassy property is owned by the United Kingdom. Each morning the ambassador and his staff arrive at work in fine British fashion with women wearing tweed and herringbone suits and men wearing bowler hats and shirts with Prince of Wales collars. A worker raises the red, white and blue Union Flag. All official functions open with a rousing rendition of God Save the Queen.
The people within the embassy have a distinguishable accent and use idiomatic language that is unfamiliar to the American ear. They show little interest in American sports, but closely watch cricket and rugby scores. They ignore American holidays, but on the evening of November 5th they build a bonfire to celebrate Guy Fawkes Day. They might eat fish and chips served with “mushy peas” for lunch and enjoy beef and Yorkshire pudding for supper. At eleven o’clock in the morning and four o’clock each afternoon things come to a sudden halt. It is time for a spot of tea and a biscuit or scone served on Royal Doulton china.
Most important of all, the ambassador and his diplomats are British citizens who faithfully serve their government on foreign soil 3000 miles from home. Their main responsibility is to represent England in the United States. Americans do not have to travel to England in order to know what the country and culture are like. They can visit the embassy. Occasionally an American seeks British citizenship. They are directed to a British consulate in their region or the embassy in the nation’s capital.
Churches are like embassies. They are located in most countries around the world. Christians are like ambassadors. Although living on foreign soil, we are citizens of God’s kingdom and follow his laws and standards of ethical behavior. We are in the world, but not of it. We give our attention to kingdom affairs, use kingdom language, eat a kingdom meal in honor of our Sovereign, sing distinctive kingdom songs, observe certain kingdom holidays and customs, and engage in many kingdom activities that most people consider strange. Regardless of our location on the planet, we are loyal subjects of God’s government. As emissaries we represent the kingdom of God to the world. When people want to know what the kingdom of God is like, we invite them to come and see. When they visit they get a taste of the kingdom.