The Nurture of God: The Church
Over and over again in the Scriptures, the people of God are likened to a vine that God planted in his vineyard. God plants, waters, and prunes the vine. But over the centuries we find God troubled over the vine and removes it from its place. This happened to Israel when the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem and carried many of them away. Why did God need to remove the vine? Why was Israel sent into exile? There are many reasons, but one of the most prominent is because the shepherds over the people failed to care for the people. It was as if the support structure for Israel had deteriorated and fallen down, much like the trellis in my backyard. Without that trellis, the vine grows wild and gets into all kinds of things its not supposed to be into. If the people of God are a vine, then what is the trellis in this analogy? What is it that gives direction to the growth of the vine? What is it that protects the vine from growing toward the wrong things? It is the church.
More specifically, it is the infrastructure and leadership of the church that serves as the trellis for the people of God. It is the church that provides the direction and context for the spiritual growth of the believer in Christ.