“I Am the True Vine” Q & A Follow-Up
On Sunday, we tried something new at the end of the message. We fielded questions regarding the message and the passage of Scripture we were in (John 15:1-8). There were a lot of great questions, and we were unable to get to all of them on Sunday, so I want to follow up here on some more great questions that you submitted through the chat on live.warrenroadchurch.com, or through text at 734-215-5134.
Q: Don’t we participate in the pruning process by removing things in our lives that hinder our connection with Jesus?
Short answer: Yes we do participate. The more difficult part of the question is “how”? Is it our responsibility to remove/prune? I would argue that it’s pretty clear that the one doing the pruning is God (the gardener in John 15:2). We do participate, but our participation is through a willingness to submit to the pruning of the gardener. I would say that just like we can’t produce fruit on our own, neither can we prune ourselves. The pruning of a vine, or a rose bush, has to have an outside force acting upon it. Unlike branches and rose bushes, we have the ability to say “no thank you” to the pruning. The Skit Guys did a great skit where a believer “submits” to the chiseling of God. But when God starts to actually chisel, the believer says “stop” or “no not there”. The main thing required for pruning and greater fruitfulness is our willingness to surrender our lives to the will and pruning of the Father.
It’s interesting in John 15:2 to note also that pruning doesn’t effect the connection to the vine, pruning effects the fruit being produced by the vine. Only dead branches that have no fruit (and have never produced fruit) indicate a lack of connection to the true vine.
All that to say, yes we do participate in the pruning process, mainly through submitting to the will of God for our lives. But like any part of the transformation process, we aren’t just passive, we are also active participants. For example, if God convicts me that I need to prune some of my favorite news network from my life so I have more time to spend with God (through His word, prayer, loving my neighbor, etc.), God isn’t going to shut off the t.v. for me :). So yes, we do participate, and the main step toward our participation is submitting to the will of God, and then following through with what He asks us to do.
Q: What do we do if we see other Christians not producing fruit?
It’s part of our human nature to deflect attention from our own flaws, by seeing/pointing out the flaws in others. In Matthew 7:5, Jesus tells us to take the giant plank out of our own eye before we confront a brother/sister about the tiny speck in their eye. So as a preface to answering this question, I would first say, honestly self-evaluate your own fruit production before ever confronting someone else about theirs.
After that, I would say the first thing to do is begin praying for them. If there is a lack of fruit, or if the fruit being produced is the opposite of what should be produced, it may very well be indicative that something is amiss with there connection to Jesus. Pray for them, pray that their connection to Jesus would be restored or strengthened. Pray that God would give you His heart for them, and that you would increase in grace and compassion for them.
After all of that, if you have a good relationship with them, set up a time to check in on them. You don’t have to directly address the fruit topic, but maybe communicate your concern that they seem “off”, and you care and want them to know that you are there for them.
I guess 3 steps then: 1) Check yourself, 2) pray, 3) communicate that you care.
Q: What about non-believers, do they wait for his second coming submit or just are done?
Great question. Not sure if this is directly referring to something from John 15, or just a great general question. I’ll address it from the perspective of John 15 and the dead/lifeless branches.
Elsewhere in the New Testament, we see something miraculous happens: branches from other trees, or dead/lifeless branches, are grafted into the living tree/vine, and these previously dead/lifeless branches begin to live! (see Romans 11:11-31).
The question is a really big question that has to do with the topic known as “the destiny of the unevangelized.” Basically, what happens to people who have never made Jesus the Lord of their life? To quickly answer this question, I don’t know, and I can’t know for sure. In the end, God is the judge. Some answer this question by saying that everyone will have one final, final chance even after death. But that minimizes the importance of the here and now.
I know this isn’t an adequate answer. I’ll make a note to address this in a future message series. In the meantime, I’m happy to have a more in depth conversation with you if this was your question :).
Thank you to everyone who submitted questions. They were great questions! This is something we will be doing again in the future, so stay tuned!
Blessings on the rest of your week,
Holy Week Services
This coming Sunday is Palm Sunday, which launches us into Holy Week.
On Good Friday, April 2nd, we will have a service of reflection and contemplation about the events surrounding Jesus’ death. The service will be at 6:30 PM, and will be available in-person and online.
Then on Easter Sunday, April 4th, we will gather to celebrate the resurrection and the life of Jesus at 10:30 AM. This service will be available both in-person and online. If you haven’t yet returned in-person, this is a great Sunday to do so. We continue to follow all CDC safety recommendations. Last Easter, we weren’t able to be together because of COVID. And what a celebration it will be as we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus in person!
In addition to our Easter Service, there will be a socially-distanced egg hunt for children following the service. Also, if you are interested in purchasing an Easter lily, you can reach out to Joyce Willermet at firstname.lastname@example.org or 734-645-1607.
Here is the latest update from Dr. Ghioto at Covenant Community Care:
Covenant Community Care Westland is continuing our vaccine drive this Thursday for the following groups: patients aged 65 and up, as well as people who are frontline workers in certain industries or work with children (teachers, bus drivers, etc. Again this week the guidelines also include those who are aged 50 and up with chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, COPD, asthma, hypertension, and the like. People can call 734-298-0203 to schedule a time. We will be having another clinic day next week, possibly with expanded guidelines, so stay tuned.
Catch Up on Last Week’s Message
If you missed the message and Q & A last Sunday, or want to go back and rewatch it again, you can watch it on our website by clicking HERE.