I am the real vine, my Father is the vine-dresser. He removes any of my branches which are not bearing fruit and he prunes every branch that does bear fruit to increase its yield. (PHILLIPS)
Those who know a thing or two about gardening tell us that pruning a flower or shrub is the best way of ensuring steady growth. Pruning looks destructive, but wise trimming does not destroy. It enhances and enriches despite appearances.
So, it is with the life of faith. It is interesting that Jesus only seems to present two options. One is that of being discarded, being rendered fruitless. A reference to those who despite appearing to belong to Jesus have no vital connection with him. The sap of life does flow through them.
This is no description of those who struggle to follow Jesus and who find it hard and drift from time to time. This is a total disconnect. And we need to remember that we are not the ones to finally determine just who belongs in that category. We leave that to the divine gardener.
The only category otherwise mentioned is that of those who do bear fruit but who he prunes in such a way as to bear more fruit. There is no mention of God just letting people have an easy ride to their destiny. Those of us who have this divine connection, who have the sap of God’s life flowing through us, are not left to simply bask in the warm sunlight.
We are pruned, trimmed, not because the gardener has a grudge against us or delights in making things hard for us. Rather he wants us to grown into our destiny. If that looks a bit messy along the way, so be it. We just have to trust that God the gardener knows what he is doing. We trust that the untidy mess we seem to be in is his way of making his garden grow.