Monday, February 17, 2014

John 15:2--Pruning Part 3--Removing Obstacles to God's Light

“Jesus said to his disciples:
‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.’”

We can get a good idea of what pruning is about by comparing the agricultural purpose of pruning to scriptural principles. Together, they shed a lot of light (pun intended) on what Jesus is getting at here.

The primary reason for pruning is to make sure that a vine’s fruit bearing branches get enough light. That is essential because grapes only bear fruit on new growth and, left to themselves, preexisting growth will block the sunlight the fruit bearing branches need. That’s a problem “because shaded leaves only function at about 6% of their capacity, and may not be contributing at all to ripening the grape cluster.” Pruning Grapes in the Home Garden: Some Basic Guidelines (Washington St. Univ. Ext.)  So fundamentally, pruning is about giving fruit bearing branches access to the outside energy—light—God provides to do the job He assigned them.

Believers likewise need light beyond ourselves to accomplish what God wants from us. That seems to be the principle Jesus was describing when he said, “apart from me you can do nothing.”
That makes sense when we consider that everyone of us lacks, on our own, what we need to produce all that God wants from us. See We All Need Pruned.  

So where do we get that light? Scripture is abundantly clear—from God.  He is, after all, the creator of light. Genesis 1:3, Isaiah 45:7.  He has repeatedly manifested Himself as light, Exodus 13:21-22, Wisdom 18:3, Acts 9:1-5, Acts 26:12-15 Revelation 1:13-16, and self identifies as the light we need. John 8:12, John 9:25, John 12:46.  His faithful servants tell us that His word is a valuable source of light, Psalm 119:05, Psalm 119:130, Proverbs 6:23, and that He provides the light we need to guide us to where He wants us to be. Psalm 18:28, Psalm 27:1, Psalm 97:11, Psalm 112:4, Isaiah 9:1-2, Luke 1:78-79, Luke 2:32, John 3:19-21, John 12:35-36, 2 Corinthians 4:4-6, Colossians 1:12-14, 1 Thessalonians 5:4-5.

Scripture also makes it clear that we don’t get that light just to bask in it for our own pleasure, for sunbathing. Instead, God intends that we pass it on to others. He wants us to be light sources in a dark world, 2 Samuel 23:3-4,  Proverbs 4:18, Isaiah 49:6, Daniel 12:3, Matthew 5:14-16, Matthew 13:43, Acts 13:47, 2 Corinthians 4:5-6, and to model His light in specific aspects of our behavior. Romans 13:12-13, Ephesians 5:8-10,  Philippians 2:14-15.

In sum, pruning is intended to remove things that limit our fruitfulness by getting between God and us and is done so that we can better deliver His goodness to others.

So how does that happen? That will be discussed in the next few posts.

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