“Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.” vs. 6
Church people have long had an unfortunate habit of taking the bible’s metaphors literally and then using them to destroy the gospel of grace. In this instance they imply that these words of Jesus about the vine and its branches are proof for the existence of a fiery hell. They conclude that anyone who is not attached to Jesus, the true vine, will be tossed aside, gathered together with other sinners, and at the last judgment, will be thrown into hell. Presumably they believed that such scary forecasts were necessary to keep people from drifting away from the church. In reality their interpretation undermines the deep sacrificial love that God has for humanity by making it conditional. Jesus uses the metaphor of the vine and its branches to underline the importance of staying connected to Christ. It’s true that the fruits of the Spirit are threatened when we stray from our source of vitality. Some have experienced the drying up of the soul that can occur in the course of a lifetime. We feel barren and fruitless, almost good for nothing. Those feelings happen, but when they come it doesn’t mean God has stopped loving us or that the Spirit of Christ has departed. It means simply that, for our sake, and the sake of the world, we need to get reconnected–and the sooner, the better.
Thought for the Day: When have I felt fruitless?