I am a Branch, God is a Gardener

John 15:2-6 – 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.

This passage came up in Bible reading this morning, and it nearly made me want to cry. You see, it embodies some things I trying to deal with in my personal life to be able to grow more as a Christian. It still amazes me sometimes how just a small amount of words can speak to me so deeply. I’m still in awe of God, how He knows everything I’m going through and He gives me the words I need to hear for the moments I am in.

Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away
Branches that don’t bear fruit must be removed. They may be sick and infected and leaving them will risk infecting the healthy branches. The ones that do not bear fruit must be removed so the healthy, fruit bearing branches will not be harmed. Sound familiar?

Dead branches are of no use. They are harmful and they are a nuisance. Meaning: not all people who hear His words or follow Him for a little are true believers in Jesus. Like those in John 6:66 – After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. These disciples were not genuine believers. They turned back. Their faith wasn’t in Jesus as the giver of eternal life; their faith was in the physical benefits of being with Jesus.

John 15:6 tells us what happens to the branches that bear no fruit. Dead branches receive fire and will be burned, in divine judgment.

So what kind of branch are you? Is your faith in the eternal life that Jesus offers? Or is your faith in the benefits that He offers.

And every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
Just like a plant that must be pruned so that it keeps growing healthily and to its full potential, so we must also be pruned. And often, the pruning hurts.

God must sometimes discipline us to strengthen us. To strengthen our character. The pruning is a painful process, but, oh so, necessary. He must remove the some of our interests and activities – the ones that don’t glorify Him, so that our other branches can bear even more fruit. I know He’s done this in my life.

After I became a Christian, God “pruned” me. He changed my interests in TV shows and music which led me to clean out my iPod and get rid of a bunch of my movies. He changed the activities I liked to do. He took away my desire to drink and party and placed in me a stronger desire to be the best mother and wife I could be. He gave me the desire to answer His call on my life.

So don’t accept the pain as proof that God doesn’t love you. Rather, rejoice in the pain, knowing that God loves you so much that He wants to make you into an even better person. He wants to keep your branches healthy so that they will continue to bear fruit and glorify Him.

Here’s a video that, I think, depicts this perfectly: God’s Chisel 

Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.
You don’t have to keep trying to make yourself “clean enough” to get God to love you. I know I did that for a LONG time. I thought that if I could just clean up my act, if I could just get things together, if I could just live a better life, then God would love me.

Exterior, physical cleanliness is not what Jesus is talking about here. Jesus is referring to your spiritual cleanliness. If your heart is not focused on Him, if you are focused more on things of this world, then you are not spiritually clean. It’s like in John 13:11 – For He knew who was to betray him, that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.” He knows the motives of your heart, and the motives of your heart are what determine how clean you are.

Be honest, what’s more important to you – spiritual cleanliness or physical cleanliness?

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.
Jesus wants us to have an intimate, personal, daily relationship with Him. He wants us to trust Him through prayer and obedience. And, He wants us to safeguard that relationship. He wants up guard our relationship with Him carefully so that the enemy can’t put anything in between us.

Jesus repeatedly points towards bearing fruit, the frequent references must mean there is something important about fruit bearing as a Christian. There is. It goes back to God’s primary purpose in creation, Genesis 1:28 – And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Bearing fruit is also important in redemption, John 15:16a – You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit.

Bearing the fruit of the Spirit isn’t just a metaphor, it’s a real and legitimate thing that needs to be present in our lives if we are going to call ourselves true Christians.

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
Abiding in Him means that I believe He is the Son of God, I receive Him as Savior and Lord of my life, I do what God says, I continue to recognize the Good News and how much I need it, and I relate in love to other believers in the Church.

I struggle with some of these. I sometimes struggle with doing what God says, but in those times I am so thankful for the Good News, because I recognize just how much I need it, and I am thankful for fellow believers who support and encourage me to follow the will of God.,

You can do nothing, does not mean that you can’t do anything all, that you’ll spend your life literally sitting like a bump on a log. Rather, it means that you can do nothing of eternal value. Apart from Christ you will be unable to produce spiritual fruit. Which, in a sense, still means you’ll live your life as a bump on a log.

 

The moral of the story: allow God to “prune” you, let His Word cleanse you, be in relationship with Him, bear fruit. You can do anything with Him J

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