steve

John 15 paints a beautiful portrait of God the Father as The Vinedresser.   Often, we focus on Christ as The Vine and He certainly deserves all the attention we can give Him, but it seems to me that this passage is even more focused on God the Father.  Here at Father’s Day, we have cause to think of earthly fathers.   Since God the Father is The Vinedresser, surely we as human fathers can learn from His work.   As fathers, we have been entrusted with some “branches” to tend.  John 15:2 says that God the Father removes those branches which do not bear fruit and prunes those which do bear fruit.   There are some things in the lives of our children that simply need to be removed.  A few things come to mind: alcohol, cigarettes, ungodly friends, illegal drugs, pornography, profanity, laziness, greed, vengeance, etc.  There are other things in the lives of our children that need to be limited.  Those might include: sodas, candy, things received without having worked for them, free time, etc.   Other things available to our children require a father’s constant vigilance in monitoring and evaluating their content: television, music, video games, internet, telephone, etc. 

The Vinedresser’s goal is more and better fruit.  John 15:8 says that the Vinedresser will be glorified by the branch bearing fruit.  The heart’s desire of a human father is certainly to see good things manifested in the lives of his children.   Every child will produce some kind of fruit.  When a child manifests love, joy, peace, diligence, faithfulness, honesty, etc. the human father will be honored maybe even glorified.  When the child manifests addictions, thievery, materialism, slothfulness, immorality, etc. the father will be dishonored.  John 15:9-10 indicate that the Vinedresser’s relationship to the branch will be loving and very joyful.  Father – child relationships should be characterized by love and joy. 

All of the above is merely a side story to the real focus of the passage.  The focal point is the work of God the Father in the lives of Christians.  We, as branches abiding in Christ the Vine, will have other branches growing from us.  Pruning is needed not for the unfruitful branches but for the fruitful branches.  Pruning is for the believer who is abiding in Christ, bearing fruit, walking with the Lord in at least some semblance of victory.  According to John 15:2-3, some of our branches are dead and need to be removed and destroyed, while others are alive and fruit producing.  These need to be pruned.   According to verse 2, pruning requires cutting off some fruitful branches.  That can be painful, confusing, or embarrassing, but it needs to be done.  Some God-given blessings may need to be cut off so that we realize that what we really need is not the gift but the Giver, not the blessing but the One Who Blesses, not deliverance but the Deliverer, not strength but the One Who Is Our Strength, etc.  

Pruning requires a knowledgeable and skillful pruner.  You can be sure that God knows all there is to know about pruning.  He knows when to cut, how to cut, where to cut, how much to cut, how deep to cut, etc.  Hallelujah that the pruning tools are in the hands of our loving and wise Father.  Praise God that churches or church leaders do not have the pruning tools in their hands.  By the way, do not miss the identifying of the pruning tool.  Verses 3 and 7 tell us that the tool used for pruning is the Word of God.   Pruning is a glorious process as God takes away that which is good in order to give us that which is Best, Christ Himself.    

STEVE ELLISON  is director of Ouachita Baptist Camp in Arkansas. You may contact him at pastorsteve8800@gmail.com.

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