The Vine and the Branches
The Vine and Branches
Wow! It is incredible to me how time has a way of escaping. Trinity's last blog was written in July, and here it is now November and the week of Thanksgiving. In some ways, the time has felt like years since the beginning of COVID-19, and in other ways, it feels like it happened five minutes ago. It also feels like many of us have blotted it out of our minds. Now we are a few short weeks from 2022, which is hard to believe.
During the past few weeks, I have realized we are behind on the blog, and I wanted to keep trying to press forward with the blogs. I have attempted to write a cliché' Thanksgiving blog, but it did not go well because my heart was not there. It is not that I do not have gratitude. On the contrary, I have continually thought of things I am grateful for and encouraged many of you to do the same. However, forcing my mind to write about it to "write a blog" did not go well.
God's Blog Idea
God gave me a blog idea over the last week and a half, and the message has just flowed because it was authentic and genuine. It was something God laid on my heart. So while it has nothing to do with Thanksgiving, I hope God will use it to speak to you anyways.
A couple of weeks back in Youth Group, we took a look at John 15 and talked about being connected to Jesus (the vine), and explored/investigated that passage with some intentionality.
During that lesson, God brought my focus more intensely to the first five verses of Chapter 15. This focus, paired with some yard work around the church, helped produce this blog and a short lesson.
Look at John 15:1-5. In this teaching, Jesus calls himself the "vine," which throughout the Bible is usually a metaphor for Israel, but here, Jesus takes on the label. The vine is the part of the plant connected to the roots. The root is the part of the plant that helps sustain life to the branches to produce fruit.
Jesus then labels God the Father as the "gardener." God is the owner and keeper of the vineyard. He is the one that is in control and manages the things that happen in the vineyard. Jesus expands on the role of the "gardener" by mentioning it is the "gardener" that cuts of the branches that bear no fruit. This branch can very much be people that proclaim to follow God or believe but do it as "lip service." Maybe they really do not have an allegiance to God. If you do not have a relationship or belief in God, please consider the seriousness of that decision. For the rest of us who proclaim to believe, I think it is important to point out that the "gardener" cuts the branches and not the church.
Moving forward, the next part or statement in verse 2 has been heavy on my heart. It states, "While every branch that does produce fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful." It is interesting to me that both branches (fruitful or fruitless) get "cut." I do not enjoy this part of being a believer, but it is essential. I believe I go through seasons of "pruning" that are painful and annoying and are something I would rather not have to endure. However, this process keeps me humble and attached to God to "produce" more "fruit" (God's fruit is to be like Jesus; spiritual fruit found in Galatians 5:22-23) and to mature.
During the summer of 2020, the rose bush outside my office looked dead. By July of 2020, there was not one flower. I thought the rosebush was yet another victim of COVID-19. Pastor Bart decided to cut it down quite a bit, and guess what happened? It bloomed and grew nearly twice its original size. The pruning process was needed to produce "fruit." It was a nice picture in the physical world about the issues Jesus is addressing in John 15 about the spiritual world.
The growth of this rose continues (see the blog photo) in this warm November (2021) we are having, and some of the pruning of the trees around the Trinity property is still bringing new growth even on 11/23/21; while this is not a vine, I hope it helps you visualize Jesus' lesson. See the picture below. The recent growth was the darker colored branches cut only 2 or 3 weeks ago.
John chapter 15:4-5 are the famous verses about staying in Jesus. Remaining in Jesus does not mean being perfect but staying in allegiance. We all have to make an effort and be accountable for our actions; however, the fruits of the spirit require the Holy Spirit. Following Jesus means we must hold onto Him in the toughest of times. To produce fruit and growth, we must stay connected to Jesus (life source) and allow Him to work in our lives. It is not always easy, and COVID-19, the hardships of life, temptations, and sin ALL confirm the difficulties we all face.
While Jesus spoke these words in His lifetime, the disciples would later endure many hardships after Jesus left earth for the sake of the Gospel. Holding onto Jesus and being pruned is necessary for bearing fruit in the Kingdom of God. While there is pain and seasons of pruning, know the "gardener" is doing it to help you grow and be more fruitful/useful. As we finish out yet another year, I pray you'll continue to remain in Jesus even if some pruning is needed.
Churches in Aurora
Trinity Baptist Church is one of many churches in Aurora, CO. If you do not have a church home, we would like to invite you to our service: Sunday at 10:30 AM. You can join us in person or online!