Dear GCI Family and Friends,
Culture is made up of language, habits, ideas, beliefs, customs, symbols, social organization, inherited artifacts, technical processes, and values. As I travel the world serving GCI, I observe distinct ways of being from country to country, and even region to region. However, a common phrase that I hear across our churches is, “We are GCI!” This warms my heart and speaks to the unity that can only come by the presence of the Holy Spirit.
As an organization, GCI has its unique culture. GCI culture directs our understanding to what is true, our will to what is good, and our discernment to what is beautiful. A journey through our GCI website will give you an overview of the GCI culture. Sure, you will see evidence of our branding in color schemes, symbols, and language, but most importantly you will see the triune God revealed in the person of Jesus. You will constantly see humanity held up as children of God made in his image and created for salvation, not destruction. You will see the promotion and practical support of the church. The church is highly valued, and it is through the life of the church that we best participate with Jesus by the power of the Spirit. Thank you to the media team that keeps us grounded.
In my previous Update letter, I spoke about the culture of liberation that we are growing towards. It was described through the tool of the “Support-Challenge Matrix.” It is from this matrix that we get our GCI philosophy of “High Support, High Challenge, Grace Always.” This wisdom to live by finds its genesis in Jesus Christ.
There is no higher support than the second person of the Godhead becoming flesh and blood, then going to Calvary’s cross to lay down his life for all of humanity. It was an astounding sacrificial act that changed the course of a fallen world. No greater love have we ever known or ever will.
There is no higher challenge than what Paul said in Ephesians, “…until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:13 NRSVA) Jesus desires for us to not only be saved by his love, but to be transformed into his image and to be fully alive in him.Read More
The way that Jesus interacted with his disciples, and all the surrounding people of his earthly ministry, is a living display of grace. I am reminded of what John, the beloved disciple, wrote about Jesus: “…the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14 NIV) This two-sided coin of grace and truth is a matter I believe we need to understand better and practice more often.
Let’s go back to Ephesians 4:15. It says that speaking truth in love is one of the ways we grow up into the likeness of Jesus. Truth in love ties in closely with the Christ-like nature of John’s grace and truth combination. Truth without love can be a weapon that destroys. Grace without truth can be shallow, empty, and less than genuine. You see how these qualities are interdependent.
There are multiple examples of Jesus interacting with the apostle Peter which clearly demonstrate the grace-truth-love pattern. In Matthew 16, Jesus quizzes the disciples as to who he is. Peter answers, “You are the Messiah, the son of the living God.” Jesus rejoiced and exclaimed that this didn’t come from human understanding, but God the Father revealed this to Peter. Skip ahead just a few verses, and Jesus begins talking about his impending death, and Peter boldly proclaims that this would never happen. Jesus, speaking the love in truth, reprimands Peter saying that his thoughts are Satan-inspired, not God-inspired.
Was one of the events more graceful than the other? Did Jesus act lovingly and then act harshly? No, Jesus is consistent with his treatment of Peter. Think of the night before his death when he told Peter that before the cock crows twice you will deny me three times. It came to pass. Then when Jesus is reunited with Peter on the seashore after his resurrection, he does not remind him nor rub it in, rather he confirms their relationship. That is grace in action.
Culture is much more than architecture and style—it is a living activity to accept and embrace. What is true, good, and beautiful? Jesus. GCI culture is sourced and shaped in the person of Jesus. Our GCI culture is punctuated by Jesus being alive in you and me. Jesus is the author and finisher of “High Support, High Challenge – Grace Always!” Amen!