When I went to Korea last year, I had a chance to visit a Canadian embassy in Seoul, Korea. A Canadian ambassador in Seoul may live in South Korea, but he/she is there not to work for South Korean government but to represent and further the interests of Canadian values and Canadian interests. This is what an ambassador does. An ambassador lives in a foreign country but represents the home country's values and agendas to the foreign country. The ambassador is called to bring the home country’s rule to the foreign country. Do you realize that we are called to live a life of Kingdom ambassadors in this world through our work? How can this be?
In Genesis 1:27, God says he has created us in His image. What does it mean that we are created in God’s image? First, being created in God’s image that we are created for relationship with God. As we bear God’s likeness in us, God desires to have a loving relationship with us, just as a child who bears the parents’ likeness enjoys loving relationship with the parents. Secondly, being created in God’s image means that we are created for reflection of God to the world. Once again, a child, born with the parents’ likeness, reflects the parents' images, when they talk and act like the parents. So, being created in God’s image means that we are created for relationship with God and for reflection of who God is to the world. So, how would this look like when this concept is applied to our work?
Joseph as a Slave
Joseph in Genesis 39 is in 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. What can the work of slave have any meaning to it? But it says in Genesis 39:2-3,
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.
Here, we see Joseph working in the image of God. First, he works in relationship with God, as it says, “The Lord was with Joseph.” Even in the land of Egypt, a strange and a foreign land, Joseph was walking daily in close relationship with God. Second, Joseph was also working in a way that reflected who God is to the world, as the text says, “His master saw that the Lord was with him.”
Joseph as a Prisoner
Then, later in the chapter, Joseph was once again betrayed by Potiphar’s wife and now was living as a prisoner. What can the work of the prisoner have any meaning to it? But again it says 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.
Once again, even as a prisoner, we see Joseph working in the image of God. Joseph works in a close relationship with God, as it says again “The Lord was with Joseph.” Even in the prison, Joseph was walking in an intimate love and trust relationship with God. So, because God was with Joseph, God was actually working through Joseph and making sure Joseph’s work was successful. As a result of that, again Joseph was working in a way that was reflecting and representing God’s presence in the prison cells.
More than a Slave & a Prisoner: God's Ambassador
In both works, as a slave and as a prisoner, Joseph was working as God’s ambassador. In both places, at Potiphar’s house and at the dark prison cell, Joseph was walking in a close relationship with God. Instead of complaining, Joseph was living a life of completely trusting that the Lord was with Him. As Joseph was walking in oneness with God, God was working through Joseph to bring His blessings to the world of Egypt. As a slave and as a prisoner, Joseph was doing more than the work of a slave and a prisoner. He was an ambassador who was working to reflect and represent God’s rule in the land of Egypt, as the people there clearly saw that God was behind the success of his work. Joseph lived as God’s image bearer and God’s ambassador who brought God’s rule to the land of Egypt even when he was working as a slave and as a prisoner.
In our work-places, this is how we are called to work. We are called to be God’s ambassadors by working in a close relationship with God and by working to reflect and represent God’s presence to the world. This is what a good ambassador does. A good ambassador makes sure he/she is living in a close connection with the home country's government, so that he/she can represent the home country's agendas to the foreign country. God's ambassador does the same. God's ambassador walks in a close relationship with God, so that he/she can reflect God's presence to the world.
My dad passed away few years ago. Many of my dad’s friend say I look like my dad and say that when they see me, they remember the precious memories they had with my dad. The question is when the people in our work-places and in our world see us, will they say what the Egyptians said to Joseph? That is, “God is with him.”