Our true identity and meaning

Nowadays, it is often necessary to make a name for yourself to be important and important to others and yourself. It seems that people are on an insatiable quest for identity and meaning. But Jesus already said, "He who finds his life will lose it; and who loses his life for my sake will find it "(Mt 10, 39). As a church, we have learned from this truth. Since 2009 we call ourselves Grace Communion International and this name refers to our true identity, which is based in Jesus and not in us. Let's take a closer look at this name and find out what's in it.

Grace

Grace is the first word in our name because it best describes our individual and shared journey to God in Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. "Rather, we believe that we will be saved by the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they are" (Acts 15, 11). We are "without merit from His grace through the redemption that has been done through Christ Jesus" (Rom 3, 24). By grace alone, God lets us (through Christ) share in his own righteousness. The Bible is constantly teaching us that the message of faith is a message of God's grace (see Acts 14, 3, 20, 24, 20, 32).

The basis of God's relationship with man has always been grace and truth. While the law was an expression of these values, God's grace itself found full expression through Jesus Christ. By the grace of God we are saved only by Jesus Christ and not by keeping the law. The law by which every man is damned is not God's last word for us. His last word for us is Jesus. He is the perfect and personal revelation of God's grace and truth that he freely gave to humanity.
Our condemnation under the law is justified and just. We do not achieve legitimate behavior out of ourselves, for God is not a prisoner of his own laws and legalities. God in us acts in divine freedom according to his will.

His will is defined by grace and salvation. The Apostle Paul writes the following: "I do not throw away the grace of God; for when justice comes by the law, Christ died in vain "(Gal 2, 21). Paul describes the grace of God as the only alternative he does not want to throw away. Grace is not a thing that can be weighed, measured and acted upon. Grace is the living goodness of God, through which he pursues the human heart and the mind and changes both.

In his letter to the congregation in Rome, Paul writes that the only thing we try to accomplish by our own efforts is to pay sin, which is death itself. That's the bad news. But there is also a particularly good one, for "the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom 6, 24). Jesus is the grace of God. He is God's salvation, which was given to all people.

Community (Communion)

Community is the second word in our name because we enter into a true relationship with the Father through the Son in communion with the Holy Spirit. In Christ we have real communion with God and with each other. James Torrance put it this way: "The triune God creates communion in such a way that we are only real people when we have found our identity in communion with Him and other people." (From Worship Community and the Triune God of Grace, p. 74).

The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are in perfect communion, and Jesus prayed that his disciples would share that relationship and reflect it in the world (Joh 14, 20, 17, 23). The apostle John describes this community as a deep rootedness in love. This deep love describes John as the eternal communion to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. True relationship means living in communion with Christ in the Father's love through the Holy Spirit (1, Joh 4, 8).

It is often said that being a Christian is a personal relationship with Jesus. The Bible uses several analogies to describe this relationship. One speaks of the Lord's relationship with his slave. Derived from this, we should honor and follow our Lord, Jesus Christ. Further, Jesus said to his followers, "I do not say that you are servants; for a servant does not know what his master is doing. But I told you that you are friends; for all that I have heard from my Father, I have made known to you "(Jn 15, 15). Yet another picture speaks of the relationship between a father and his children (Joh 1, 12-13). Even the image of the groom and his bride already found in the Old Testament uses Jesus (Mt 9, 15) and Paul writes of the relationship between husband and wife (Eph 5). The Hebrews even say that as Christians we are siblings of Jesus (Hebr 2, 11). All these images (slave, friend, child, spouse, sister, brother) embody the idea of ​​a deep, positive, personal community. But all these are just pictures. Our Triune God is the source and truth of this relationship and this community. It is a community that he generously shares with us in his goodness.

Jesus prayed that we would be with Him in eternity and that we would rejoice in this goodness (Joh 17, 24). In this prayer, he invited us to live as part of the community among each other and with the Father. When Jesus ascended to heaven, he took us, his friends, into communion with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Paul says that through the Holy Spirit there is a way by which we sit next to Christ and in the presence of the Father (Eph 2, 6). We may already experience this communion with God, even though the fullness of that relationship will only become visible when Christ returns and establishes His rule. That's why fellowship is an integral part of our faith community. Our identity, now and forever, is founded in Christ and in the communion that God shares with us as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

International (International)

International is the third word in our name because our church is a very international community. We reach people across different cultural, linguistic and national boundaries - we reach people worldwide. Even though we are statistically a small community, there are communities in every American state, as well as Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, South America, Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, and the Pacific Islands. We have more than 50.000 members in more than 70 countries that have found homes in more than 900 communities.

God has brought us together in this international community. It is a blessing that we are big enough to work together and yet small enough to be personally personal. In our community, friendships are constantly being built across national and cultural boundaries that today often divide, built and nurtured our world. That is certainly a sign of God's grace!

As a church, it is important to us to live and pass on the gospel that God has placed in our hearts. Even to experience the richness of God's grace and love motivates us to pass the good news on to other people. We want other people to enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ and share in that joy. We can not keep the gospel secret because we want everyone in the world to experience God's grace and become part of the triune community. That's the message God has given us to share with the world.

by Joseph Tkach


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