Sunday Soul Cleaning, part 3

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Cleaning Out to be More Fruitful

Cleaning out our homes can be a challenge, especially when we hold on too tightly to things. In today’s Sunday Soul Cleaning, we’re going to look at how God cleans us so that we can be more fruitful.

Our passage today is John 15:1-4.

I am the true vine; my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of
mine that does not produce fruit. And he trims and cleans every branch that
produces fruit so that it will produce even more fruit. You are already clean
because of the works I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain
in you. A branch cannot produce fruit alone but must remain in the vine.
In the same way, you cannot produce fruit alone but must remain in me. (NCV)

For Jesus to talk to the disciples about grapevines would not have seemed strange to them. God used that analogy throughout the Old Testament. The difference was that He was referring to himself as the ‘true vine’ rather than Israel as the vine. For Jesus to become the ‘true vine,’ He had to relinquish power as God’s Son to be in human form in order to do God’s will. He surrendered completely to God’s care and tending as visualized by the Father as the gardener.

It’s a Relationship!

The relationship between the vine and the branches is more intimate than even the sheep and the shepherd. To be a branch is to be totally dependent on the vine. Jesus desires that kind of relationship with us. He wants us to be totally dependent upon Him. However, being a branch doesn’t mean that it’s always going to be easy. Branches are meant to bear fruit. Sometimes the fruit isn’t so good. That’s when our Father, the gardener, gets to work.

Sometimes branches die and do not produce fruit. The Father cuts off those branches. Dead wood can harbor disease and can cause problems for the rest of the plant. It works the same way in the church and even in us. God has to remove the dead wood so that we can flourish. It is all part of the cleaning process.

Then the Father works to trim and clean up the remaining branches. This part became very real to me when we owned a nursery. We had some butterfly bushes that were scraggly. Some branches were dead and were immediately cut off. Some branches weren’t so bad, but I was told they needed to be removed. We trimmed until it seemed there wasn’t much left. The bushes actually looked pretty ugly to me. I even questioned my husband, who has a degree in horticulture, about cutting so much away. He said, “Trust me.” It wasn’t long that those ugly bushes had new growth and developed into beautiful bushes.

Trust

God asks that we trust Him to get rid of the branches that are dead and diseased before they infect us completely. He asks us to trust that sometimes the things that we may not think are bad, need to be removed. Those things may produce fruit, but not the quality or quantity that He desires. He’s not taking those things away so that we have nothing. He does it so that we can be even more fruitful.

No More Baths

Jesus next said, “You are clean through the word I have spoken.” After working in the yard with bugs and dirt, doesn’t it feel good to get clean. Sin is that nasty dirt that covers us and with a word Jesus makes us clean. In an earlier part of John, Peter asked for Jesus to clean all of him. Jesus told him in John 13:10, “After a person has had a bath, his whole body is clean. He needs only to wash his feet.” Once we have given our heart to Jesus, He has made us, our whole body, clean. However, sin still creeps in. At those times we need only to ‘wash our feet.’

How do we do this? By abiding in Him. It is a mutual relationship, us in Him and He in us. Yet, it is spoken as a choice. We choose to abide.

Whether it’s cleaning our house or cleaning our soul, the purge may be painful. But the fruit that is to come is worth so much more.

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