6th July 2020

The “Christian Trademark” ® 

“By this all will know…”
John 13:35 (NKJV)

In today’s world, virtually all companies and organisations, including most church denominations, are identified by a Trademark™ – often an officially Registered Trademark®, usually accompanied by a logo – a graphic motif which may also be registered as a trademark® and which no other organisation may copy or usurp.  The trademark is intended to enable outsiders to identify the organisation, so that they “Accept No Substitutes”!

In Old Testament times, the Israelites were given a special “trademark” by God, intended to identify them from other nations, and this was the weekly Sabbath.  In the modern world the emblem of the cross, and sometimes a fish motif are often used by Christians as identification symbols – essentially as trademarks of Christianity.

But many Christians and Christian denominations prioritise their different doctrines and practices and use their “distinctives” as the means by which they identify themselves.  For some it is a strict Sabbath or Sunday observance.  For others it may be speaking in tongues, or the pre-eminence and gusto of their gospel-song worship services; some by their emphasis on theology; some by their interpretations of prophecy; some by their charity activities and fund-raising; some by their pithy church bill-board displays; some by dress codes or vestments, icons or other accoutrements.

But if God gave a “trademark” to the Israelites under the Old Covenant, should we not consider whether Jesus (God in the flesh) similarly gave an identifying “trademark” to His people under the New Covenant?  The fact is that indeed He did!  And it was not the cross.  It was not the fish.  It was not doctrine, prophecy, theology, or liturgical practice that would identify His people.  It is here in John 13:35: “By THIS all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love one for another.”  And not only did He specify this as the only externally observable trademark of true Christians, He inspired His apostle Paul to downgrade any other element which might be substituted, for in 1 Corinthians 13 Paul makes it clear that no other doctrines, practices, spiritual gifts, motifs or other distinctives, however valid and relevant, can ever eclipse or pre-empt the only “trademark” ever given by Jesus for the identification of the New Covenant Church which He founded.

If you have ever come into a congregation where genuine warmth and love between the members is present, you will know!  In a Church like this, the love is never cliquey or exclusive, it is welcoming and inclusive of all.  That is the God-given trademark® every Christian congregation should strive to develop.

Prayer
Heavenly Father, thank You that You have specified love between Your people to be the sure identifier of Your Holy Spirit at work in Your true Church.  Help us please to respond accordingly. In Jesus Christ’s name.
Amen

Study by Richard Whiting

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About the Author:
Richard Whiting is an Elder of Grace communion International now retired and living in Dumfries in South-West Scotland

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You are welcome to attend one of our local Church congregations located throughout the UK and Ireland. For details of your nearest local congregation, check on our website, www.gracecom.church under the ‘churches’ tab, or ring  +44(0)1858 437099.

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