I remember the first time I heard a description of John Wesley’s doctrine of sanctification. I felt like I had come home, that this is the theology where I belong. Sanctification—making saints—means that God not only forgives our sins but continues to transform us, enabling us to grow in love for God and one another. I knew from personal experience that Christians can choose to run away from God; the longer I did so, the easier it became. Yet, on each return, God welcomed me. As I made myself more available to God, opening more and more of my life to God, I found myself growing in faith and trust. I have so far to go, but long to grow in my love for God and others, so that this love becomes my motivation for everything that I do.
I love Henri Nouwen’s description of a “truly converted” life as one of joy and gratitude in which God is central (16). I think John Wesley would recognize this as the sanctification God desires for all of us.
Nouwen titles today's reading “choose life”. I like to think of this as choosing eternal life—an eternal life that continues after we die, an eternal life that begins now. Jesus defines eternal life as knowing the one and only true God and knowing Jesus (John 17:3). In the same way that a vine draws from and is empowered by its roots, through our connection to God we experience abundant life, joy and peace. In knowing God and Jesus we connect to and experience their eternal nature, and in some mysterious way experience eternal life in this life.