I am the vine, you are the branches. (John 15:5)

What is the Christian Church? In the year of the commemoration of 400 years since the Reformation , this question has a special relevance, since the theology of the church gave rise to some of the most serious struggles of the Reformation. Is the church the assembly of those who are called, those who are already “saved”? Or is it the field on which the good grain as well as the weeds grows? (Matthew 13:24ff) The Reformed Churches, with their emphasis on the doctrine of predestination, struggled with such questions for a long time. If human deeds are not allowed to influence God’s decision about who is to be saved, we must assume that not only “good” people are to be found in the church or in God’s kingdom. The thinking often remained binary and static: either saved or condemned; either the holy assembly or the open community.
The image of the vine makes it clear that church is not static, but a dynamic process. This comes closer to our experience of ourselves: in moments when we grow beyond ourselves, for example in real conversation, or when we give ourselves to a great task, we experience that we can partake of the transformed life that flows from Christ. When we look back at other moments, we have to acknowledge that we stood in the way of this stream of life. Consecrating human beings means to be raise them to our true destiny to be a branch on the vine. The Act of Consecration of Man is the deed of a community not a status for redeemed people. Rather, it joins us onto the life of the vine.

See Cynthia Hindes’ blogpost on John 15 here.

Tom Ravetz

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