Wednesday, October 29, 2014
I'm a branch, you're a branch, continued (John 15:1-8)
Last time, we talked about the forgiveness that Jesus offers to us. But just because we are forgiven, doesn't mean that God is going to give us an easy-peasy no-problems-here kind of life! Let's dive in!
We also need to talk about the 'pruned' branch. Remember this in verse 2?
"...every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, so that it will be
even more fruitful."
One of the jobs of a gardener is to prune the branches on the grapevine. This resonates with me, since it is my job each winter to prune the scuppernong and muscadine vines. First, the dead branches must be identified and cut off. Those can be a place where bugs and diseases grow. Next, living branches must actually be cut way back -- there's an art to it (which I don't pretend to have mastered) so that you prune back to a node that can grow more healthy branches and hold up clusters of fruit. When you're done, there doesn't seem to be much left of the grapevine.....it seems so drastic. How can cutting something in this extreme a fashion be necessary?
It's all about the branches reaching their full potential. Even though the pruned branches look almost dead, months later they will be vibrant with life, covered with leaves, and full of a large crop of grapes. But it would not be possible to have those results, if the gardener does not perform that pruning chore.
This is what God does to us. He prunes us. He cuts into our lives, and He removes things that we might not want removed. He changes things around, and takes some things away. It often feels so drastic, so extreme, so unnecessary. And many times while the Master Gardener is pruning, we are asking, "Why are You doing this to me, God?"
And if we will listen, we will hear His gentle answer: He wants us to reach our full potential as Christians. He prunes for our good. He wants us to produce as many fruits of faith as possible. Perhaps we are going through that pruning process right now. We all experience this in our lives, and when it happens, we must trust that God is in control. That He knows what He is doing.
Our goal is that we become a fruitful branch. In verse 8, Jesus tells us, "This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples." The faithful Christian is one whose life is filled with "fruit." First of all, the fruits include faithful obedience to God. It's doing what God wants, even when the rest of the world is doing something different. Fruits include the way that we treat other people; and that is our family, our work peers, our friends, and even total strangers. When we are around these people, we need to ask ourselves "how can I serve them? How can I show God's love to this person?"
And even more importantly, "How can I witness about Jesus to them?"
"This is to my Father's glory," Jesus said, "that you bear much fruit."