“…every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” – John 15:2
What is the purpose of pruning a plant?
No seriously. I’m wondering if you could tell me. Because I am the wrong guy to give gardening advice. Plants and gardening just don’t make sense to me. Philosophy, logic, even a hammer and nails, those things make sense to me. But gardening is my achilles heel. Not only do I not have a green thumb, I have what might be considered a black thumb. My yard is the place where plants go to die. Once, I tried to plant an oak tree. I figured that since it seems like they just sprout naturally around here, it should be an easy thing to grow. Well, sure enough, I even managed to kill that. Turns out, you are not supposed to water oak trees. Who knew that? Maybe everyone else. But to me, it’s all just a guessing game. Yes, I’ve been told that it’s easy. But I’ve come to realize that if I am ever going to have a good looking yard, it is going to be because I paid an expert to do it for me. Until then, weeds.
So, once again, what is the purpose of pruning? I googled it. Google told me, “Pruning removes dead and dying branches and stubs, allowing room for new growth…. It also deters pest and animal infestation and promotes the plant’s natural shape and healthy growth.”
Did you see that? New, safe and healthy growth is the purpose. Now, if we apply Jesus’ metaphor about pruning to ourselves, we will see that if we want to experience new, safe and healthy growth, we will need to undergo some pruning from time to time.
When we hear that, we typically focus on the potential pain of the pruning. And yes, as we’ve talked about, pruning can be painful. It is easy for us to say, “No way! Don’t get near me with those shears!” We might think to ourselves, “I don’t want to change… I want things to stay exactly the way they are.” However, the truth that Jesus is telling us today is that there’s a greater purpose to his pruning. It is for new, safe and healthy growth.
So, do you need that? Are you a person who could grow? If you even have to pause to think about that question, then let me tell you something, the only person not growing is a person who is dying. So, which one are you? I hope you are the one growing… I hope I am the one growing. But, the same logic can be applied to a church… the church that isn’t growing is a church that is dying. Which one are we? Well, by Jesus’ logic, one way that we can tell if we or if the church is growing is if it has been pruned lately. So, where are you? Where are we? Should we fear the pruning? Or maybe, we should welcome it. Maybe we should anticipate it. Not because we like the pain, but because we want to grow!