Monday, January 6, 2014

John 15:2--unfruitful branches, part 1

“Jesus said to his disciples:
‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts away every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit.’”

What do we make of the portion of verse 2 highlighted above? It seems pretty tough. And how do we reconcile it with God’s loving nature? Several things are worth thinking about. Let’s start with two of them.

First of all, we can’t dismiss it as a divine typo. It is consistent with the passages of the Jewish Bible Jesus seems to be alluding to. See Psalm 80 and Isaiah 5.  It is also consistent with what He said elsewhere. See Luke 13:6-8. Indeed, Jesus drives home the same point later in the same passage we’re considering here. See John 15:6.

Second, it actually is motivated by love. God wants us to be fruitful so we can deliver His love and goodness to others. Others suffer if we fail to do that, and God loves them too much to let His people contribute to that. And make no mistake about it; our failure to be fruitful hurts others. So God is acting in love when He moves an unfruitful believer out of the way.

Let me illustrate that by last year’s garden. We planted a bed of tomatillos in the spring and several beds of beets in mid-August.   By early September it was clear that neither were as productive as they should have been. The tomatillos were played out and significant portions of the beet beds were growing weeds instead of beets.

If we would have let that continue those spaces would have been wasted and we would have generated less food for the hungry. Instead, we pulled the tomatillos, tilled under the weeds, and planted mustard greens. That resulted in several hundreds pounds of produce where there would have been none and beauty where there would have been decay:

                  Greens where played out tomatillos were

Viewed in that light, God’s practice of cutting “away every branch … that doesn’t produce fruit” is an act of love that blesses far more folks than it hurts.

Well, that’s it for now. More later.

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