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Grace is the first word of our denominational name—Grace Communion International. We did not choose that name because it sounds “religious.” Each word identifies our experience as a Christian denomination.
Grace is an integral part of that identity – especially our identity in Christ. We have always understood grace to be unconditional, an unmerited pardon of our sins. But we tended to think of it as one of the components of salvation that needed to be “stirred into the mix” because we can’t keep the law. We need to see that God’s grace is much more than that.
Grace is not just a spiritual supplement that God provides because we can’t keep his law, like a whiff of oxygen to help a sick person breathe a bit easier. Grace is the love and freedom-producing action of God that reconstitutes humanity into an entirely new creation. It transforms us and gives us a new kind of life – life that no amount of law keeping could sustain. Grace is the environment that allows us, God’s new creation, to not just survive, but to grow and flourish.
As Paul explained in his Epistle to the Galatians, “For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:19-20 KJV).
The Father, Son, and Spirit have been giving, receiving, and sharing love for all eternity and love is their gift of grace to us. God’s grace is not the exception to a rule, his rule is a gracious one, all the time, to give us life and to bless us, even if obstacles to our receiving it have to be removed at his own cost.
We see God’s grace clearly in the person of Jesus, who, as Paul said, loved us and gave himself for us. The Gospel of John gives us Jesus’ own encouraging words: “The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one. I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:23 NRSV).
As recipients of the grace of God, in Christ, we not only share in the life of God through Christ, in the Spirit, but we also share in the mission of Christ, through his Spirit. That mission is the complete restoration and renewal of all creation through Christ Jesus, into a state of perfect glory. God’s grace in the person of Christ is for all humanity without distinction to race, status, or gender.
That is why the vision motto of Grace Communion International is, “all kinds of churches for all kinds of people in all kinds of places.”
I’m Joseph Tkach, Speaking of LIFE.