Discipleship and Pain

‘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.’   John 15:1-2

We were reading this passage on Thursday night at LIFE Group and these verses brought a fresh revelation with regards to the life of discipleship prescribed by the Master, the Lord Jesus.

It seems to present pain and suffering as a present reality in either case:

  • when we are NOT fruitful: i.e. not fulfilling our mandate
  • when He wants us to be MORE fruitful: i.e. increase our effectiveness

These sayings of Jesus make me realize that spiritual growth happens in the context of pain (pruning) – an image so alien to our contemporary secular image of success (success = comfort and pleasure) as well as the current Christian assertion that spiritual growth is measured by how rich, healthy and jolly we are…

Yet Paul and James rejoiced, and encouraged us to have the same attitude, in the midst of the trials of pruning. But that joy must be so different than the on that the world is supposed to deliver (but never does). Popularity, power, possessions – they all promise much and lure us in yet always leave us empty and cheated.

“Joy is not the absence of pain, but the presence of God.”    
Teilhard de Chardin

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