Addition by Subtraction
There are many steps to growing good apples. Fertile soil, water and sunlight are elements of the process needed to produce beautiful sweet juicy crops. Did you know, healthy growth also demands subtraction? A healthy fruit tree demands pruning of branches each year. Pruning decreases the number of apples and increases the amount of nutrients that each remaining limb and its subsequent apples needs to thrive. Fruit trees are a great analogy for the Christian spiritual life with Jesus. If you don’t agree – ask Jesus himself!
In the Gospel of John 15:1-2, Jesus tells his listeners that he is the true vine. The spiritual life is empowered by connection to the vine. Pruning makes the tree all the more fruitful. Prayer, Bible study, fellowship, worship, and service are the ingredients added to a healthy Christ centered spiritual life. These are ingredients we enjoy talking about. Pruning is not such a great conversation starter. What does pruning look like in Christian spiritual formation? I believe that fasting is our example of pruning the excess branches of our life with Jesus. We need to not only add good practices to our journey to follow Jesus, but we need to prune or cut out the stuff disempowering engagement with Jesus.
For 21 days in February, from the 2nd to the 23rd, I am challenging Neffsville to do a little fasting/pruning for the sake of the spiritual journey with Jesus. I am using the word fast in a broad sense. Fasting may involve spending mealtimes with Jesus in prayer for a day, or the fast could be from a detrimental practice. One might fast from searching social media to make space for Jesus. Maybe the fast is from being judgmental or gossip. My fast is from hurry. On a daily basis I find myself rushing from church to the farm to basketball practice and back home for supper only to head out again. There is always somewhere more important to be than the place where I find myself in the moment. My fast from hurry will make space to be present with my Lord and Savior Jesus! What will you fast from? I look forward to fasting together and hearing of your stories of becoming more like Jesus through the pruning process.