Our true identity
Nowadays it is often the case that you have to make a name for yourself in order to be important and important to others and yourself. It seems like people are on an insatiable quest for identity and meaning. But Jesus already said: "Whoever finds his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it ” (Matthew 10:39). As a church, we have learned from this truth. Since 2009 we have been called Grace Communion International and this name refers to our true identity, which is based in Jesus and not in us. Let us take a closer look at this name and find out what is hidden in it.
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 by the grace of the Lord Jesus we will be saved, as will they” (Acts 15:11). We are "without merit righteous from His grace through redemption through Christ Jesus" (Romans 3:24). By grace alone God leaves us (through Christ) share in his own righteousness. The Bible constantly teaches us that the message of faith is a message about 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 redemption. The apostle Paul wrote the following: «I am not throwing away the grace of God; because if righteousness comes through the law, Christ died in vain ” (Galatians 2:21). Paul describes God's grace as the only alternative that he does not want to throw away. Grace is not a thing that can be weighed, measured, and dealt with. Grace is the living goodness of God through which he pursues the human heart and mind and changes both.
In his letter to the church in Rome, Paul writes that the only thing we try to achieve through our own effort is sin pay, namely death itself. That is the bad news. But there is also a particularly good one, because "the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:24). Jesus is the grace of God. It is God's redemption that has been released for all people.
Fellowship is the second word in our name because we have a true relationship with the Father through the Son in fellowship with the Holy Spirit. In Christ we have real fellowship with God and with each other. James Torrance put it this way: "The Triune God creates fellowship in such a way that we are only real people if we have found our identity in fellowship with him and other people."
The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are in perfect fellowship and Jesus prayed that his disciples would share this relationship and that they would reflect this in the world (John 14:20; 17, 23). The apostle John describes this community as deeply rooted in love. John describes this deep love as the eternal fellowship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. True relationship means living in communion with Christ in the love of the Father through the Holy Spirit (1 John 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 relationship of the master to his slave. Derived from this, it follows that we should honor and follow our Lord, Jesus Christ. Jesus further said to his followers: «From now on I am not saying that you are servants; for a servant does not know what his master is doing. But I told you that you are friends; because everything I heard from my father I made known to you » (John 15:15). Another picture speaks of the relationship between a father and his children (John 1: 12-13). Jesus even uses the image of the groom and his bride that can already be found in the Old Testament (Matthew 9:15) and Paul writes about the relationship between husband and wife (Ephesians 5). The letter to the Hebrews even says that we as Christians are brothers and sisters of Jesus (Hebrews 2, 11). All these pictures (Slave, friend, child, spouse, sister, brother) contain the idea of a deep, positive, personal community with each other. But all of these are just pictures. Our triune God is the source and truth of this relationship and community. It is a community that he generously shares with us in his kindness.
Jesus prayed that we would be with him in eternity and rejoice in this goodness (John 17:24). In this prayer he invited us to live as part of the community with one another and with the Father. When Jesus ascended to heaven, he took us, his friends, into the community of the Father and the Holy Spirit. Paul says that there is a way through the Holy Spirit through which we sit next to Christ and in the presence of the Father (Ephesians 2, 6). We can already experience this communion with God, even if the fullness of this relationship will only become visible when Christ returns and establishes his reign. That is why community is an essential part of our community of faith. Our identity, now and forever, is founded in Christ and in the community that God shares with us as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
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