Wednesday, April 27, 2016

"Pruning Hurts"

John 15.1-2, 8 NIV

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 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.”

”This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

In approximately 60 A.D., a physician and historian named Luke wrote an account of the early church. In his book of Acts, the author described “a great persecution [that] began against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria” (Acts 8.1). This persecution occurred about five years after Christ’s final words to His followers before ascending to heaven:

“…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you;
and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea
and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
Acts 1.8 NASU

Notice the geographical progression in Christ’s words: Jerusalem to Judea and Samaria, then to “the remotest part of the earth”. Jesus expected His people to go global with the gospel. That would require some self-denial and sacrifice. Instead, thousands of Spirit empowered converts preferred to enjoy church in the comfort of their home city of Jerusalem... and did so for at least half a decade following the birth of the church on day of Pentecost. Only a God-ordained, political persecution would drive Christians even as far as the neighboring regions of “Judea and Samaria”.

Did believers suffer during the persecution described by Luke in Acts, chapter 8? Undoubtedly they did. But the word of eternal salvation reached other communities and Christ’s plan was achieved. Apparently, it took more than the Holy Spirit to accomplish this important mission. It took “a great persecution” to get comfortable Christians out of the pews and into the streets. 

According to Jesus Christ, there are only two kinds of branches. One produces fruit and the other does not. The Master Gardener, Father God, “cuts off every branch… that bears no fruit”. The good branch that bears fruit, He “prunes so that it will be even more fruitful”. Either way you get cut and cutting hurts.

Redemptive suffering is God’s plan for disciples of Christ to become “even more fruitful”.

2 comments:

John Turner said...

I pray to God that He prunes my branch so I can be more fruitful. A great post. I enjoy reading your blog.

Dave Scriven said...

Thanks John.