Pruning by James R. Coggins

In John 15: 1-8, Jesus presented the encouraging metaphor of the vine: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener…I am the vine; you are the branches.” Because we are connected to the vine, Jesus promised, “You will bear much fruit.” This teaching of Jesus is an attractive one. We relish the idea of being cared for and nourished by God, of having the life of Jesus flowing into us every day, of being enabled to flourish and be fruitful.

We might even admit that often we are secretly glad that in this passage Jesus said that God will cut off, discard, and burn the wicked, the branches that do not bear fruit. We might especially want this to happen to mass murderers and those who abuse children. As well, we might feel that God’s judgment on the wicked vindicates us, the righteous.

But there is one aspect of this teaching, this metaphor or parable, that we absolutely do not like. John 15:2 says that God prunes “every branch that does bear fruit…so that it will be even more fruitful.” We do not relish the idea of God pruning those who are fruitful. We are tempted to object, “God, why do you have to prune? I’m already being fruitful. I’m doing better than others (the wicked). Pruning hurts. Why does pruning have to happen? Why pick on those who are already doing well?” The answer is that without pruning we would naturally tend to produce more leaves and twigs, put on a show of being healthy, and the leaves would choke out the fruit. Even for the most righteous among us, there are many things in our lives that are sinful, and there are many more things that might not be sinful in themselves but that hinder and distract us from producing fruit. Giving up those things will hurt. We want them. We are deeply attached to them. We don’t want to give them up. But relinquishing them is necessary in order for us to remain fruitful and to become even more fruitful.

About jrcoggins

James R. Coggins is a professional writer and editor based in British Columbia, Canada. He wrote his first novel in high school, but, fortunately for his later reputation as a writer, it was never published. He briefly served as a Christian magazine editor (for just over 20 years). He has written everything from scholarly and encyclopedia articles to jokes in Reader’s Digest (the jokes paid better). His six and a half published books include four John Smyth murder mysteries and one other, stand-alone novel. In his spare time, he operates Mill Lake Books, a small publishing imprint. His website is
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1 Response to Pruning by James R. Coggins

  1. Patricia Mussolum says:

    Do true Jim!


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