This month we began a new study with our women and men. Our study centers around the DVD series by Bruce Wilkinson called, Secrets of the Vine. By tackling John 15:1-5, we are learning about the parable of the vine grower and its focus on bearing “good fruit.”
Dr. Wilkinson points out that Jesus is the vine – the “trunk” that brings sap up from the roots into the branches; Without the Vine the branches can do nothing. The Vinedresser or gardener is God our Father; the branches are believers who grow out along trellises; and the “fruit” is the result of a believer’s good works (Jn 15:16b). Simply put…God wants us to do good works, i.e. bear good fruit.
Sometimes our branches are barren or our heavenly Father wants us to produce more fruit. So God “prunes” us. Ouch! Pruning can mean God removing things in our lives that produce no fruit – like pointless or destructive habits, friendships or problematic family relationships that sap our energy, jobs going nowhere and other things that are fruitless.
Pruning can also mean our heavenly Father disciplines us. Wilkinson explains we can be disciplined for many things including: Unforgiveness (Matt. 18:32-35) and Sexual immorality (1 Thess. 4:3-6). We could become weak, sick or even die if we do not judge ourselves rightly (1 Cor. 11:30). That’s a scary thought! It should motivate all of us to act better. Pruning sometimes hurts. But, it is also the Father’s way of helping us to become conformed into the image of His beloved Son (Ro. 8:29).
Teresa is a good example of someone who has faced God’s “pruning” in her life. A delightful friendly, outgoing woman, Teresa left the Mission several months ago only to find that she needed the support of other Christians and the biblical guidance she received at the Mission.Going back into the world without a foundation in Christ is a recipe for failure, with the probability that one will fall back into old destructive habits and relationships. As Teresa explains, “without my foundation in Christ, it is just a matter of time.”
The Mission Staff works hard to teach our residents how to live godly, holy lives so that they may become productive branches bearing much fruit. Jesus says,
“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.“ (John 15:5).
Valorie and Ken Emilio