Posted by: celticanglican | April 26, 2008

A True Sense of Security

John 15:1-8

Growing grape vines can be a challenging, yet rewarding activity.  Fortunately, I live in a temperate climate that allows them to thrive if properly taken care of.  There’s watering, fertilizing, and harvesting, not to mention pruning and disposing of the dead plants.  It’s always somewhat discouraging, at least for me, to have to get rid of a plant that’s dead and not bearing fruit.  On another note, I’m sure it grieves the heart of God when we allow ourselves to become like dead grapevines.

Why does God have to do this “pruning job”? Why can’t God make us toe the line so it’s not necessary for anyone to be cast out? Simply, because God is God.  Our Creator made us with the capacity to chose the ways of God, or the ways of the world.  When we chose against following God’s purposes for us, we’re volunteering to be pruned from the rest of the vine.  We could continue to go on in a constant state of disharmony with God and still be in a state of grace, but grace, as a gift, must be freely accepted.  It’s not pushed off on us against our wishes.

Jesus tells us that God prunes each fruit-bearing vine in order to produce more fruit.  This can be a “hard saying”, as it seems to imply that trials and persecution actually happen for our own good.  We are, indeed, pruned by the trials we face so that our faith may be strengthened.  When our faith is strengthened, the good works of God are more evident in our lives.

Most importantly, Jesus reminds us that we can do absolutely nothing apart from Him.  Those coming from heavily works-based belief systems often question whether their good deeds are enough to keep them in good standing with God.  We can never be good enough through our own works. They are not a means of salvation.  Works are evidence of our faith.  Those who rely on works to save them, often in the form of dress, fasting and diet, financial offerings, or strict requirements as to how often to attend church are doing their works apart from Christ.

If we rely on the grace of God, and not on our own efforts, we can know the peace & security that Jesus promises us.

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