Remember the neighbor who chastised me for "pruning" my bushes? His thinking was "leave them alone. They are beautiful just the way they are."
But my thinking was, I need to trim them back. They are beautiful, but I knew there were lots of "dead" branches inside and underneath. Ones my neighbor couldn't see. Those dead branches were "hidden" from him.
I overheard two ladies talking one day about why one of them had changed churches. The first lady said, "I just didn't like his preaching. He doesn't preach enough about hellfire and damnation. And that's just what we need."
I thought about what she said several times during that day.
But the thoughts that kept coming back to me were these.
So many people I talk to share with me "guilt" they live with. Some of them have been carrying it around for years. Some of them remind themselves almost daily of the "bad" things they've done.
Jesus didn't preach "hellfire and damnation". Jesus preached about love and forgiveness. Even though we forgive each other some of us have a difficult time forgiving ourselves.
It's like me pruning my bushes. I knew the dead branches were there, hidden. No one else could see them, not even my precious neighbor.
John 15:1-2 I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.