A Meditation: On John 15:2 / He Prunes

“He 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” – John 15:2 (NIV)

The cultivation of noble virtues that asceticism blatantly burdens our shoulders with, is what this divine pruning takes care of. He prunes, is a manifestation of his grace that calls us not for introspective self-refinement, but to bring one’s heart into union with His.

“… just as you are in me and I am in you”[i]

Peter had to only focus on Christ and he could walk on water.[ii] Such is the effect of Christ on us. The only thing He desires from us is the submission of our hearts to Him. And, it is in such union that we garner all essence of His nobility in our personhood.

“… I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism”[iii] 

God does not differentiate us as fruitless or fruitful. The scripture notes, every branch in me, i.e. all branches are in Him, fruitless and fruitful alike. That’s the extent of His grace, which covers us all. The scripture also says, He cuts off, meaning, not a single branch is spared by the pruner’s knife.

God does not sit and judges us as to which one of His branches are bearing fruit, and which ones aren’t, and then cuts or prunes respectively. No, because that would make Him partial. Rather, He brings the knife to all. It does not matter whether you’re a genuine fruit bearing believer or not, it’s coming for all. But what matters is, the way it affects us.

When the pruner’s knife comes, the branches that are strongly attached to the vine gets pruned while the rest gets cuts off.

“… you have refined us”[iv]

Kathario, the Greek word for prune means, removal of hindrances. So, God who is merciful cannot be said to be punishing His children for being fruitless. It is rather when He refines His body i.e. the body of Christ, He removes all hindrances of spiritual advancements. But, such refinement becomes a condemnation for professed believers who aren’t really invested in Christ. Whereas, for genuine believers, it ends up as a means of heightening their potency for divine fruitfulness.

“… If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me”[v]

God does not ask us to sit in contemplation to examine, and correct ourselves, because we can’t. The Jews have failed with their laws, we can’t go any further than that. Rather, what God is asking us is to completely submit ourselves to Him. Be invested in Him. Because when we are in Him, we’re like Him: righteous (for which He gave His life).

This is a union He desires. A union that not even God’s own knife will dissect. For a house divided cannot stand.[vi] But this union is pure, so all who are not in Him are destined to be trimmed off. What then so remains is that, we learn to acknowledge grace in this act of pruning, and accept it as a prestigious opportunity for Him to refine us.

[i]John 17:21 (NIV)

[ii]Matthew 14:22-23

[iii]Acts 10:34 (NIV)

[iv]Psalm 66:10-12

[v]Acts 9:23 (ESV)

[vi]Mark 3:25

A Very Short Introduction to The Gospel of John / Briefly for Beginners

1-bfbOut of the four Gospels, the Gospel of John is the most profound. USCEB notes it as a, product of a developed theological reflection.1 While the others were concentrating on Jesus from a very earthly perspectives, John comes along and tells us that He is the all unifying principle of life, the creator and the sustainer of the universe; the ultimate solution to both the intellectual, and the spiritual conundrums, the human race was stuck in. Bible.org notes: The Gospel of John was written to reveal who Jesus was… unlike the synoptics which reveal Jesus inductively (from ground up), John reveals Jesus deductively (from heaven down).2

Another interesting aspect of John’s Gospel is his symbolic representations of the signs. The signs are the miraculous deeds that Jesus did. Biblica notes: John’s Gospel is rather different from the other three… In any event, his witness to Jesus goes its own way, highlighting matters that in the other Gospels remain implicit and underdeveloped. The literary style of this witness of Jesus is also unique among the Gospels; here focus is on the “signs” of Jesus’ identity and mission and on lengthy, theologically rich discourses.3 John, it seems was more interested in what these signs could mean to us, what it could teach us, and how it could better us. USCEB writes, The gospel narrative contains a series of “signs”—the gospel’s word for the wondrous deeds of Jesus. The author is primarily interested in the significance of these deeds, and so interprets them for the reader by various reflections, narratives, and discourses.4

John, also talks of sin and righteousness as light and darkness. He presents man as belonging to either of the two. Blue Letter Bible notes, John presents man as either belonging to one of two things: the darkness or the light. There is no in between.5

Lastly, and very interestingly, John also gives high reverence to work as well. Note that the book begins and ends with an acknowledgment of work (or labour). Sean McDonough writes, work pervades the Gospel of John. To quote further, he continues: Human labor is an integral part of the fulfillment of creation (Genesis 2:5)… During his earthly ministry, we will see that the work Jesus does for the Father is an integral aspect of Father and Son’s love for each other. “The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works” (John 14:10). This provides the model for redeemed human labor, which is likewise meant to nurture our love for one another as we work together in God’s good world.6

To sum up, dear readers, be encouraged in John’s testimony. Let us find our confidence in his emphatic assertion that the God of our fathers is the most Ideal God, and we are in His care. I also want to encourage you that while you are reading through the Gospel of John, please keep an eye open to the signs and what it could mean to you, and what God is trying to communicate to you through it. Lastly, let us also not forget, the highest honor that we are called for, i.e. co-heirs of His Kingdom. We’ve got work to do dear brethren, the wonderful-joyous kind.

A Meditation: On 1 Samuel 38-39 // I Cannot Go In These //

David and Goliath

“Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them.”I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off” – 1 Samuel 17:38-39 (NIV)

In a sermon entitled The Tyranny of Type, George H Morrison wrote:

One of the most familiar scenes in Scripture is the fight of David and Goliath. To me the choicest moment of that scene is when David was getting ready for the fight. I see Saul lending him his armor, and it was a very honoring bestowal. I see David, restless and uneasy, handling the great sword as if he feared it. And then I see him laying all aside and crying out, “I cannot go in these,” and fingering his well-loved sling again. For Saul there was but one way of fighting. He had never dreamed of any other way. There was only one tradition in his chivalry, and every fighter must conform to that. But David, fresh from the uplands and the morning and the whispering of God among the hills, must have liberty to fight in his own way. The one was all for immemorial custom. The other was determined to be free. The one said, “It has been always so,” and the other, “I cannot go in these.” And remember that it was not Saul who was in the line of God’s election, but that young stripling from the Bethlehem pasturage who in his service dared to be himself.i

To think our traditions and culture to be a molding form for all is I guess to simplify God to a watchmaker with no creativity. But as much as common sense dictates, we can see that none of us are same. Each and everyone of us has some unique individuality that separates us from each other. We have different stories, struggles, weaknesses, and strength. I believe these differences shapes us like puzzle pieces so that we could fit into each others lives perfectly; where my strength could fill into your weaknesses and where in my weaknesses your strength could fit in.

For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.ii

When we fail to see that our individuality is what unifies us into the body of Christ, we leave a lot of Davids outside the Church mumbling I cannot go in these. As believers it is essential that we learn to look past differences of individuality and accept each other in Christ. Just as the Apostle Paul wrote:

My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ,iii

i devotionals.ochristian.com
ii Romans 12:4-5 (NASB)

iii Colossians 2:2 (NIV)

Picture: pcog.org