Monday, December 14, 2009

Day 22: John 15


What is the point of life? Many are asking that question. What am I here for? Jesus tells us that life is knowing God as He reveals Himself in Jesus and bringing Him glory through our lives (John 17:3-4). As we learn more about Him, we respond in obedience to what He has revealed to us. These changes are evident in our lives and produce tangible, visible results. These may be changed attitudes, altered actions, or opportunities to share these things with others. The Bible often refers to this as fruit.

Jesus explains this in depth here. He gives us a picture to understand what God is doing in the life of a believer. The point is that our lives bear fruit as God works through us. God's desire is that we bear fruit and that the amount of fruit will increase. This demonstrates to others that we belong to Him and it brings us joy. In fact, the result of this process is that our joy will be complete.

Jesus shows us that the Father is working to cultivate our lives so that they will bear more fruit. A gardner would lift an unfruitful branch of the vine out of the dirt and mud ("lifts up" is another translation for "cuts off" in verse 2), clean it up, and make it healthy. God does the same thing with us. Through Jesus, our lives are made clean. We are forgiven and made whole. Our past is behind us and our lives begin to bear fruit and demonstrate God's work in them.

Once a branch begins to bear fruit, it is not allowed to grow uncontrolled, on its own. A gardner does not allow a grape vine to grow uncontrolled, rather, he trims away unnecessary things on the branches of the vine to allow it to channel its energy to bearing fruit, the real purpose for its existence. These unnecessary things often seem necessary to the uneducated person. Usually, they are in the form of leaves. An untrained person would think that the leaves make the vine look healthy, however, they also keep it from bearing fruit. The energies of the vine are directed to growing leaves, not making grapes. We have many things that we think are necessary to our lives. These things distract us from bearing fruit and need to be pruned away.

The gardner is in charge of doing the trimming, pruning, and preparing. What is the part of the branch? To remain connected to the vine. For us, this means staying connected to Jesus. He is the vine. We can only bear fruit as He enables us and works in us. How can we know that we are remaining in Jesus? Through His word, the Bible. Jesus came and revealed to us all that we need to know about God. He inspired men to record the things He revealed in the Bible. It is the only sure and certain guide to knowing God that we have. As we study the Bible, the Holy Spirit reveals God's thoughts to us and enables us to follow them. We cannot "grow" or "bear fruit" on our own, but fruit-bearing comes naturally as we remain connected to the vine. It is the response of a branch that is connectd to the vine. Fruit is the natural result of a believer who remains in Jesus.

We remain in Jesus by obeying His commands. What are they? Where's the checklist? He sums them all up by giving the command here to love each other the way that He has loved us. This means sacrifice our life, our rights, the things that we feel entitled to, for the sake of others. As we think of this, it seems that we will hurt or miss out on something that we could have had. Jesus is clear, however, that while we may miss some things, this is part of the pruning to enable us to bear fruit. In fact, the result of obeying His command to love others is that we experience His love for us and our joy is made complete. None of the things that we so often cling to are the point of our lives. The point is to know God and experience His love This brings fruitful lives and complete joy.

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