“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit.” (John 15: 1- 2)
Have you been “pruned” beloved reader? I used to think that meant people were the branches, but I would like to think now it is more attitudes and perspectives – the things we hold on to that it would be better let go. I look back over my life, and see where the Divine has “snipped” away things – I am better for it. Praise to the Divine, I have borne fruit!
“You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.” (Verses 3 – 4)
I have, time to time, wondered if the positive-self talk I engage in is an aspect of me who has been schooled in psychology and seminary trained. Or if it really is the Divine within me that guides me. I have pondered that one for days on end. And I have not come to any firm conclusion. I realized, eventually, I do not have to.
“I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.” (Verses 5 – 8)
Does the Divine “throw away” branches that do not produce fruit? It sounds so harsh. Maybe these branches are people who have never believed, or forsaken belief. Or use the correct “buzzwords” to try to pass as Christians but have not committed their spirit and soul to it.
I have to remind myself that this is the writer of the gospel of John who wanted to highlight the mystical and spiritual nature of Jesus Christ. And who imaged Christianity as something to work and strive for. There was no place for complacency. I am reminded too of a fellow seminary student who was in several of my classes. We took our written exams during the same time period, and had our oral exams within a few days of each other. She was not “awarded” with a master’s degree; it took her by surprise and dismantled the plans she had for herself. I felt badly for her. It reminded me that a seminary degree involves not just hard work and study, but source within one’s self that absorbs theological thinking. Not everyone has that. There was another person who was in the master of divinity program, who graduated from seminary but her own denomination chose not to ordain her. For her also it dismantled her plans.
I do not think these two people were “thrown away” because they did not develop “fruit”. In fact, I do not think they were thrown away at all. But sometimes pruning cuts deep. For my own self, I have not realized my dream of ministering to a church. Maybe some day. But I am content, for now, to simply be as I am. And to reach out to you, beloved reader. To ponder with you about scripture, faith, spirituality – and identify the intersection point of that with our daily lives. Shalom & Selah!