Rev. Dr. Delesslyn A. Kennebrew, J.D., M.Div. - Visionary Strategist  Faithful Innovator  Inspirational Essayist
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Boundaries and Cut Offs In JESUS Name! - John 15:1-11

Boundaries and Cut Offs in Jesus Name!
John 15:1-11


 BlogFam, I make intentional efforts to be aware of the boundaries in the various types of relationships I have with people.  I know that we really do not like to talk about boundaries but we all have them.  We all know how far we will let people go with us and we all know that we can only go so far with some people.  There are certain conversations I will not have and a limited amount of time that I will share with certain people.  We all have boundaries.

 Boundaries in relationships rise and fall for lots of reasons that I will not explore in this post.  However, I invite you to look at our text for today because – though we may NOT want to accept this reality – the text is clear that even Jesus has boundaries AND Jesus has Cut offs!  And before I go all the way there, let me ask YOU… 
 Do you have any Cut Offs? 
 Is there anybody in your life that you have cut off?  
Is there a relationship in your life that is fractured, broken, in disrepair? 

 I admit that I have made some cut offs and I do not doubt that I have been cut off by some people for reasons that I will not recall in this post.   I think it is all a part of our life’s journey…. Boundaries and cut offs. And we even have a biblical model for doing so in JESUS’ name and for JOY’S sake… 

[John 15:1-11]
 “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. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you.  No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 

 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. 

 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”  

BOUNDARIES  in Jesus Name 

 While I am persuaded that the LOVE of GOD has NO boundaries, NO limits, NO borders, NO end, I am also convinced that the restrictions we encounter between and amongst each other are a result of placing boundaries upon the way we share the LOVE of GOD between and amongst each other as a people.  Let me explain.  In other words, when we do NOT feel loved, it is NOT because GOD does not LOVE us or because God’s LOVE cannot reach us or because God’s LOVE skipped over us.  Many times, when we or those with whom we interact do not feel loved, it is because those around them have restricted the ways in which they choose to show love.  

 On the flip side, I am simultaneously convinced that the boundaries we set in our various relationships can rise and fall, reduce and expand based in direct relation to our own capacity to allow the LOVE of GOD to fill us and flow through us.  Furthermore, we cannot be necessarily responsible for how others receive the love we share because we cannot always fully discern their personal boundaries or limitations to accept or reject true, neighborly love.  However, as the branches connected to the vine, this passage is clear in its directive to LOVE GOD and out of our LOVE for GOD we will OBEY GOD in every area of our lives and in every relationship.  

 When we do experience the constraints of our own passions and desires, goodwill and positive thinking, it just might be the case that we have overstepped our bounds as it relates to the directions the Lord would have the branches to grow.  Thus, in an effort to help us to remain in HIS LOVE – not just our own passion or desires or goodwill or positive thinking which can be tempered by the restrictions we place on certain relationships that might need more LOVE than of our own volition would be personally justified in not extending but spiritually obligated to LOVE anyway – the Lord will prune us so that the LOVE that HE has will be able to fill us and flow through us.  

 So, the “twist,” if you will, is that there really are NO boundaries to the love we are to show to our neighbors in Jesus name.  For if we remain in HIS LOVE, the same love that flows through the pulse of the vine from which the branches extend MUST also flow with NO boundaries, NO limits, NO borders, NO end.  We are to LOVE as God LOVES.

 CUT OFFS in Jesus Name 

 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. 

 BlogFam, we had to read that one verse one more time because I do NOT want you to think I was making it up.  I think that this is one of those verses in the Bible that some of us would much rather ignore than confront because this verse, in context, confronts the true intentions and productiveness of our faithfulness.  And the question we MUST all answer today is this: Are You bearing fruit?  The answer is YES or NO! 

 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit… 

 This, alone, is a hard pill to swallow.  We do NOT want to be cut off or rejected or cast aside or dismissed by anyone, let alone Jesus!  We just got through discussing the endless capacity of GOD’S LOVE and now we are focusing on a verse about cutting branches off.  YES we did and YES we are.  And the truth is that cut offs happen in Jesus Name. 

 How do cut offs happen?  Well, I believe that cut offs happen in a variety of ways AND if we all were to step back for a moment, we would really come to agree that cut offs are necessary and Jesus is doing the right thing. 

 It is still true that there are NO boundaries, NO limits, NO borders, NO end to the LOVE of GOD and it is God’s desire to fill us with this kind of love so that it can flow through us.  However, as the Master Gardener of the Kingdom of God, as God “walks” through the garden, inspecting every branch that is connected to the vine, decisions have to be made in order for the garden to flourish, in order for the garden to be fruitful.  In other words, cut offs, suspensions, denials, dismissals, sit downs, and shut outs have to occur for the work of God to continue.  Let me say it even more plainly.  If there is any branch that is growing out of order, twisting out of turn, going in its own direction, hiding behind other branches, or refusing to blossom while connected to the True Vine, the Master Gardener wisely addresses every need for the good of the Kingdom and a cut off in Jesus name just might be necessary. 

 Now, this cut off is not like the cut off you or I might be apt to do when things are not going as we intended.  We might just cut off and leave whomever it is unattended and alone.  But because of the magnificent LOVE of the Master Gardener, I believe that grace and mercy will allow the branches that must be pruned and most especially those that have been cut off to be restored in LOVE.  And if that branch continues to refuse, reject, disrespect, or disengage the LOVE of GOD in the garden of the Kingdom, then one day – and no one knows when that day is –   

 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 

 So, LET US REMAIN in Jesus Name 

 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.  

 My Sisters and Brothers,
Will YOU remain?  
Will you choose to allow the LOVE of GOD to fill you and flow through you?  
Will you choose to be faithful and thereby a fruitful branch, showing that you are indeed a disciple of Jesus Christ?  OR
Will you continue to toy with the grace and mercy of God as an 
unproductive branch in the Kingdom?

 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.  

 YES there are BOUNDARIES in Jesus name and YES there are CUT OFFS in Jesus name.  AND we are called and commanded to REMAIN in the boundaries of His Love and clear inspection so as not to be cut off in Jesus Name.

 I have told you this so that my joy – GOD’S JOY - may be in you and that your JOY may be complete. 

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