Jesus is the vine and we are his well-attached branches. But continuing the image from vine dressing, Jesus says, “He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit.” It's a tough thought, but one that is found elsewhere in the New Testament. You can't be abiding in Christ without being with Christ, working with Christ, serving him, and bearing fruit. You might expect the fruitless, faithless branches to be cut and cast away, but the pruning, the cutting, doesn't stop there. Even the fruitful, faithful branches are pruned.
Do you know what that means in your own life? Have you ever experienced being pruned, cut, pained even by the God you are trying to love? I do not mean to say that Christ brings these times of suffering, this pruning upon us. Christ stands grieving with us when we are being pruned for greater fruitfulness. But, I do think our gospel indicates that following Jesus entails cost. Sometimes that cost may be painful. Discipleship means getting what God wants. And sometimes, what God wants in our world cannot be achieved without cost and sometimes that cost may be painful to those whom God loves. The pain is part of being drawn even closer to the one in whom we abide.
Your Brother in Christ,