‘Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.’ - Jesus, John 15.2
Here in John 15, Jesus lays out a very clear expectation; if we claim this bond with him, fruit is expected. First, godly character and relationship with Him. Then, further accompaniments - active and committed local church involvement, along with our energy, resources and spiritual giftedness expended on advancing the Kingdom of God. This is a short version of fruitfulness, yet we must agree to God’s expectation of us to strive for increased and fully realized potential in our discipleship with Christ.
C.S. Lewis, in his collections of essays entitled ‘The Weight of Glory’ challenges us with this - ‘we are far too easily pleased.’ He illustrates with a child, playing in the dirt making mud pies, refusing to see the greater pleasure of a vacation at the seashore. In the child’s limited, immature view, why leave these mud pies? This is great fun! Yet this self imposed limitation holds him back from a far greater experience. Anything wrong with a kid enjoying his dirt? No - unless that enjoyment becomes a hindrance to a far greater experience.
The folks at Gadera hear about their pigs running off a cliff into the sea (Mark 5, Luke 8) These Gaderenes - they miss that their terrorizing demoniac is now transformed into a normal man - no, better than normal. They miss that someone so powerful and transformative is among them, this Jesus. No, instead it’s - what has happened to our pigs?! Totally oblivious that if this Jesus is capable of such supernatural acts, they’ve got an opportunity much greater than pigs! Pig farming good? Sure (let’s ignore the kosher issue here), but driving out Jesus over pigs? Really?
‘He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit’. Obviously ungodly elements must go. But what else might be seemingly good, yet is keeping us from the best? We might claim “Why, I’ve been serving God 30 years!”. Well, glory! But, do we have 30 years growth and increase, or the first year’s experience repeated 30 times over?
Also this, more fruit does not equal more activity. We all know (but do we practice?) the principle that busyness is not necessarily productivity. Sometimes it’s actually an avoidance of purpose, or a false front to cover a lack of purpose. The case is not being made here for the lazy and unmotivated; ambitious achievers are on the go people. Just consider - might we be busy about something that’s not really the best? Think Mary and Martha, Luke 10:42.
Let’s stop, and evaluate, and hear what the Spirit may be speaking. Lord, bring me to my best, whatever pruning may be required.