“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last.” (John 15:16)
When I think about an official being appointed to a city, state or federal office, I am aware that this official has been chosen by someone or by a group of people. The word, “Appointed” means “To fix or set officially.” As Christians, God has chosen us as His own to belong to Him. Then, like our elected representatives, God not people, has appointed or set us officially in the office of bearing fruit. Wow, what an incredible thought to consider that we have been chosen by God, and officially set in the office of bearing fruit for Him! Just as an elected official must feel an overwhelming sense of purposefulness, knowing he or she has been chosen by people, how much more meaningful is it to be chosen and appointed by God? We now can add the title “Fruit-Bearer,” to our business cards. Okay, maybe not, but this is truly what God has appointed us to do.
So, how do we bear fruit? In my research regarding what “bearing fruit” looks like, there are varying viewpoints regarding both the intent and application of this portion of Scripture. In a particular bible commentary, I found an explanation of this passage that seemed to encompass all aspects of our lives in Christ, and it rang true for me. First, the commentator suggested that the image of bearing fruit pertained to the fruit of evangelism, as this imagery was used twice in the book of John, in relation to evangelism. We can all agree that we are called to go and make disciples. However, the commentator seemed to know what I was thinking in response to his assertion. I wondered how we could bear fruit in the way of evangelism without first possessing the fruit of Christ ourselves. In other words, how can I give away what I do not have? The obvious answer, is that I cannot. Next, the bible commentator went on to suggest that “bearing fruit” is having the divine life itself, as characterized by a life that reflects the knowledge of God and His love. So, as I possess more Christlikeness in my life, through my connectedness with Jesus, I am then equipped to sow, water and reap godly fruit in the lives of others, giving away what He gives to me.
By my life experiences, I am naturally wired “to do” for family, work, ministry, and for God. In stark contrast to my natural bent, I can see that Jesus has called me first and foremost to bear fruit internally, by being still with Him and knowing Him. I am realizing that as I understand God’s genuine love for me and my desperate need for Him, I will want to set aside time to “be” with Him. Also, I will allow Him to conduct the necessary pruning in my life that will bring about a plentiful harvest of fruit in me. As a result of the internal fruitfulness from that sweet companionship with Him, my heart will naturally desire to be available for Him to bear fruit through me, in the way that I interact with others. In this manner, I will allow Him to fill my cup with His fruitfulness, and then I will be more effective in pouring out His fruit seeds to others.
So, this takes us back to the crucial act of abiding in the vine, where apart from that vital union with Jesus (the vine), we cannot bear fruit. In my life, this has absolutely proven true time and again. When I make it a priority to set aside time to be still in His presence, which may include reading the Bible, singing, praying, declaring His truth in the reality of my troubles, recording meaningful verses and insights in my journal, falling asleep as I’m still, : ) and listening for His voice, fruit seeds of Christ and His nature are planted within my heart. Consequently, opportunities present themselves to give to others out of the fruit which was planted in me. I believe this is the process of bearing fruit, and fruit that will last. As we receive from God, we want to give to others, then they will want to receive from God and give to others, in turn. This process has been going on for sometime. The disciples first received from Jesus and then gave out of what He gave to them. We are included in the family of God because of the process of fruit being born in the lives of people, who then chose to pass the seeds of that fruit onto others. In this ongoing cycle, fruitfulness lasts forever, which is what Jesus desires in John 15:16.
So, this vital connection or union with God is at the core of bearing fruit in our lives. In John 15:5, Jesus said, “…Apart from me you can do nothing.” I am learning that there is nothing more important in our lives than staying connected with Jesus. Just as a branch dies when it is cut off from the vine, so our internal and external fruitfulness cease when we stop abiding in Him. As we set aside time to “be” with Him, we will desire more of that time in the future. I want to encourage you to set aside a few minutes today to be still in His presence, for He never disappoints us. Our busy world works so diligently to keep us away from the most important aspect of our very existence, Jesus. May you find rest in Him, as you rest in Him today. And then, out of your fellowship with Him, may you be sensitive to the opportunities that present themselves for you to plant seeds of His fruit in your own life; as well as, in the lives of others.