John 15 starts out with Jesus saying,
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the Gardener.
He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful."
Isn't it interesting that pruning happens during fruitful times? It almost doesn't make sense for God to prune while we are busy getting things done for his kingdom and seeing real fruit happen. Fruit leads to harvest! And, harvest produces multiplication as the fruit increases the next time.
But, God has a different way of looking at it. He sees that if he takes the fruitful branches and prunes them now they will have a much bigger load of fruit to harvest the next time around.
We get having our dead branches cut off, but it often feels like the scissors are really sharp when they are branches that have growth on them. It often sends us into discouragement, confusion, and frustration if we don't understand the bigger picture.
God is doing his pruning work in Missio Lux in a big way. He took his pruning scissors to town on me this summer, to the point where at times it felt like I could literally feel the scissors cutting into my flesh! He is also taking fruitful ministry leaders and calling them to a time of pruning. I've watched these ministry leaders do amazing kingdom work, they are joyful, faithful and fun to be around.
But, now he is calling them to a time of abiding and pruning.
I don't know if those two really go together because sometimes the hardest work of all is surrendering to the pruning. But, because these ministry leaders have acknowledged Jesus as their Lord, not just their Savior, when he calls them to pruning, they are going in obedience.
Missio Lux' mission statement is to "experience and share the freedom and hope Jesus offers with everyone." One of the best way to experience freedom and hope is to willingly give God our every branch to prune, understanding that it isn't a permanent condition and when it is finished, we will see orchards upon orchards of fruit on our trees.
No discipline (pruning) seems pleasant at the time, but painful.
Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace
for those who have been trained by it.