I’m writing over at The Glorious Table today. Here’s a preview:
I have a peace lily that has moved with our family across the United States a few times. Lately, the leaves have turned brown, and I’ve had to water more often. The peace lily is known for its low-maintenance classification and its ability to purify the air. Even its pruning process is low-maintenance—just simple deadheading.
After weeks of dumping the last of my water bottle into the plant as I walked by, I finally decided to troubleshoot with Google. I realized that my low-maintenance plant was crying out for help. Even though I was attentive to my plant, I’d neglected to set aside time to prune it, and the brown leaves were in desperate need of removal.
Not only was my plant suffering from dead leaves, but I was preventing new growth:
“Peace lilies produce their flowers on stalks that grow up from the base of the plant. Once a stalk has made one flower, it won’t make any more—after the flower fades, the stalk will eventually brown and die as well. Peace lily pruning should be done at the base of the plant. This will make room for new stalks to emerge.”
Jesus used the imagery of pruning with the disciples just before his crucifixion in John 15:1-8, which says,
I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. Every branch in me that does not produce fruit he removes, and he prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me.If anyone does not remain in me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be my disciples. (CSB)
In this passage, Jesus teaches that both he and God have roles in the garden. He is the vine, the one who provides nourishment so we can grow. God is the gardener. We believers are the branches, and we aren’t just hanging out in the garden. First, we are to remain attached to the vine. This implies we have a choice to stay attached to Jesus. Second, we are to produce fruit. Jesus ends by explaining that we do these things because it’s how we glorify God.
At first glance, these instructions seem fairly simple. Stay attached to Jesus, and we will glorify God. But notice that the gardener prunes every branch that chooses to remain in the garden. Those that don’t produce fruit are removed, thrown in the fire, and burned. But the branches that do produce fruit don’t avoid cutting. The choice to remain attached to the vine is also a choice to submit to pruning. CONTINUE READING OVER AT THE GLORIOUS TABLE