John 15:1-2 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 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."
Last month I, along with 5 other leaders led 22 high school students to Houston for our annual summer mission trip. As we prepared for our trip, we were told that we were going to be responsible for “mucking and gunking.” What is “mucking and gunking?” It is going in and tearing everything out, dry wall, insulation, mud and the muck and gunk that came with the flood. As we prepared for our trip to Houston I shared this verse from John with our team.
I also shared this story. When we lived in California I grew cherry tomatoes in our back yard. As I learned about tomatoes I found out that every tomato plant grows two branches. One branch bears fruit and the other sucks up nutrients from the fruit bearing branch, but doesn’t bear any fruit. As the plants grew, it was my job to figure out which branches would bear fruit and which ones would not. Once I determined, which was which, I pruned the non-fruit bearing branches off and threw them away. In doing this, my six cherry tomato plants grew enough tomatoes to provide enough cherry tomatoes for salads for 150 people. That is a lot of cherry tomatoes.
Jesus tells us in John 15 that he is the vine and that we are the branches. As Christians we want to bear good fruit, but often times there are things in our lives that get in the way of us bearing fruit. We allow destruction and compromises. We allow these other branches to grow in our lives which prevent us from being who God intended us to be. The branches that keep us from growing come in all different shapes and sizes. They can come in the form of anger, jealousy, or envy. They can be poor friendships and relationships. It can even be that phone in our pocket that ties us down and controls our every waking moment.
Like the tomato plant, if we want to grow in our faith, if we want to bear good fruit, sometimes we have to let God do a little pruning in our lives. We have to let go of what is holding us back so we can move forward. Churches can often be a huge offender of this. There are churches that start out and go great for 15-20 years, but then they start to fade, the interest starts to go and the fruit isn’t as sweet. However, we hang on to them, in hopes that one day they will once again make good fruit. We hold on to them because we “have done it for years.” We hold on to it because we don’t want to “fail.”
There is a band that I loved as I grew up called “Semisonic” and they sing a song called “Closing Time.” There is a line in the song that says, “with every new beginning comes from some other beginnings end.” I love this line because it reminds me that for something to start, for something good to begin, we have to let go of something else.
Is God bearing good fruit in you? If not, what is preventing you from growing? What do you need to let go of in your life so that you might bear good fruit? Is there something that God is calling you to do; or someone God is calling you to, but you don’t have the time or energy to answer that call? Maybe it is closing time…time to let go of old things so that you can start something new?