(Jesus said) "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." John 15:5
Pruning may be good for roses and vines and fruit trees, but most people I know don't like to be pruned.
Not so very long ago, I was told about a woman who was in legal trouble. She had run up some gambling debts and then borrowed from the place where she worked. "Borrowed" -- that's what she called it. The company caught her, and although it didn't take her to court, it fired her and escorted her to her car.
She found some refuge in the bottle. In fact, she found a lot of refuge in the bottle. Drinking and driving had compounded her difficulties as she had been twice arrested for driving under the influence. Most recently, she had been arrested for a hit-and-run, during which a child had been seriously injured. She was worrying herself sick until she heard about a defense attorney who was a cross between Matlock and Perry Mason.
From jail she called him and he agreed to meet with her. The visit with the lawyer went well -- very well, in fact. He nodded during her story. He asked questions when they needed to be asked. Then he said, "You have the right to an attorney. But, in truth, the best attorney can only do so much. You will probably end up with some jail time. Then, during and after jail, the judge will say you will need to enroll in recovery programs like Gamblers Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous.
In outrage, the woman shot back, "I need a lawyer, not a lecture."
The woman is an example that people don't like to be pruned. People don't like to be directed, corrected, amended or adjusted. People want to be let alone to do what they want, how they want, when they want, the way they want. People don't want anybody, God included, to tell them what's wrong with them or how they can be made right.
It's that way today. It will be that way tomorrow. And it was that way at the beginning of time. Way back when, at the beginning of human history, "God looked at everything He had created and made and pronounced it very good. ..." (Genesis 1:31a). Our first ancestors were given a unique and harmonious relationship with that Maker.
But Adam and Eve didn't like being pruned. They didn't like the one law the Lord had given them. God's order seemed too confining, too arbitrary, too illogical, and when you got down to it, just downright wrong for them. They decided they wanted to be free of what they considered to be God's most unreasonable request. They rejected God, and embraced evil. At that moment, our ancestors became dead wood. They were good for nothing, other than to be thrown into the fire.
That is, of course, exactly what God said would happen (see Genesis 2:17).
Indeed, that would have happened, if the Lord hadn't intervened. The Lord promised to send His Son who would be the way humans -- through faith in Jesus as their Substitute -- could be grafted back into a loving relationship with their Maker. To explain God's plan in a way people could understand, Jesus talked about how He was the vine and His people -- the ones who believed in Him as Savior -- would be the branches.
It was that simple: Jesus is the vine who provides life. Believers are the branches that live because they are connected to Him.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, I give thanks for Jesus. Because of Him I have life and am able to produce fruit. Do the pruning which is necessary so the fruit of my life glorifies my Savior. In His Name I pray. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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