God, Faith, Christianity

I’m new here. I have questions about God and church and faith.

All people seek meaning. This can come in the form of knowledge, relationships, spirituality or organized religion. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is part of the Christian church. We believe God’s grace, God’s unfathomable love, is available to all people as a gift through Jesus Christ. All are welcome here with their whole selves, which includes one’s race, ethnic background, past wrongdoing, socioeconomic status, gender identity, sexual orientation, physical ability and legal status. Questions and doubts are welcome.

God is the creator of the world; the giver of life; the source of wholeness, healing and forgiveness; the champion of the poor and oppressed; the power of new life and resurrection. God creates, redeems and continues to sustain the world. Christians know God as the Holy Trinity — one God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. As Christians, we believe all people are created in God’s image and loved by God. We know about God thanks to the witness of the Scriptures and especially through Jesus Christ, who embodied God’s love for humanity. God’s grace is a gift, given through Christ and received by faith. There is nothing we can do on our own — good or bad — to earn this gift. We call this “good news” or the “gospel.” Through this gift of God, we are led by the Holy Spirit to love and work for justice and peace.

Christians believe that God came to us in Jesus Christ, a true human, humble and vulnerable. Jesus lived among us and demonstrated the good news in all he was and did. The good news is the promise that God loves us and saves us by grace alone. This promise was realized when Jesus was crucified. He died on the cross but was raised again in the body and in a new wholeness. As a result, through the gift of grace received by faith, all people can be made whole in Christ and set free to love and serve all people, particularly the vulnerable, just as God loves us.

Martin Luther, after whom the Lutheran branch of Christianity is named, once wrote, “Faith is a living, daring confidence in God’s grace, so sure and certain that you could stake your life on it one thousand times. … Through faith, a person will do good to everyone without coercion, willingly and happily; serving everyone, suffering everything for the love and praise of God, who has shown such grace.” Faith, then, is not about intellectually agreeing to a set of beliefs but about living in a trusting relationship with God in response to God’s grace. Faith is our confident hope that living in God’s promises sparks renewal to love and serve neighbors, as God in Christ loves us.