Thursday, May 7, 2009

Jesus the Revealer- Part 2- God as the Gardener

This week we are focusing on John 15:1-8. In this passage, Jesus tells us how God is a Divine Gardener. In doing so, Jesus (and John) tell us about the true nature of God and His Son. Bill Lively and I discussed this passage at the Bible Study Brunch a few weeks ago. Below are some of our thoughts.

Jesus says that is God is the Gardener, He himself is the vine, and all of us are the branches. Branches that do not bear fruit are cut off and burned. Those branches that bear fruit will be pruned by the gardener. This is to help them be more fruitful. As Bill and I discussed it, the vine (or trunk) is a necessary part of the plant, while the branches are not necessary, but secondary. This is why they can be cut or trimmed.

This passage makes it seem like God is a caring, but somewhat ruthless, gardener. He is operating for the good of the whole plant, to make it stronger and more fruitful. He is not too worried, at least here, about those branches that need to be cut. Some individuals might not make it. If this seems harsh, look back at Isaiah 5 and Psalm 80. These two passages also talk about vines, gardens and God our gardener. Here, though, God is even more harsh. He seems to not make any allowances for the people of Israel (who are the subject of these passages) and all will be punished. In John at least, there is a chance that those people who "remain in the vine" will bear fruit and not be separated from Jesus or God.

But still, there is this issue of pruning. Even those branches who do bear fruit are pruned. While some people might want to look at what is the fruit, I am particularly interested in the pruning. Maybe this is because I'm not in charge of it, God is. I am in charge of my own actions, how I treat others...I am in charge of things I do to bear fruit. But this pruning is not under my control. It is out of my hands and I don't really have a say in how, when, or where the gardener might decide to use His pruning shears. So what does it mean to be pruned? I think I can feel it when I am humbled or awe. Someone is pointing out to me that I'm not the center of the universe. When do you feel "pruned"?

Peace and Love,

1 comment:

Jeremy said...

Yeah, the control element (or lack of it) can be worrying - at least for me. Parts can be pruned, Lives altered? It seems that I trust, at different levels and degrees at different times, in God's love, but can I trust that God won't do more than I can handle? That God won't trim something vital away or bend me more than I can bear?

Just as we see the love of the shepherd to do a dirty job, we see the love of the gardener. Have you met a gardener that hates his/her garden? (Again, I think of Barbara and Jim, or Joann and Jolly). Well, maybe I should say "long-term" gardener, since it's easy to love a garden when it's brand new! By investing effort and time into us, God shows the love He/She has for us and our world.

Yet, it's hard to accept and trust, just as you say. I don't know if I've been pruned yet, but I know I've been bent and trained to go this way or that (metaphorically speaking)...and I can't say I liked it. Hmm...