Fruitfulness involves obedience but obedience to Christ is so much more than just following rules—its about living a fruitful, satisfying, God-glorifying life through abiding in Christ. Jesus shares this vision with his disciples in John 15:10-17. When I was in high school, I thought my mom was trying to ruin my life. For a brief moment of time as a teenager, I really want to be involved in a street racing club. What could be cooler than taking a 120 hp Honda Civic and making it look like some kind of shark with four wheels and showing it off amongst other suburbanite teens? My mom put her foot down and (lovingly) forbid me to participate in this culture. Plus at that time, I drove a hand-me-down minivan. Who was I kidding? Of course I thought she was doing all this to spite me and keep me from my dreams. But ultimately her commands were out of love for me and ultimately for my greater joy. I was settling for a mud-pie of fun, to paraphrase C.S. Lewis, thinking that this temporary satisfaction would lead to ultimate joy. In the end, my mother was right; those guys were sketchy and a horrible influence. Nothing good came from that and I have my mom to thank for stopping me from getting involved in something which would hurt rather than help me.
God gives us commands to follow not out of spite but out of love. He alone is good, he alone knows whats best, and he alone his wise. He knows what’s best for us! Even though we might not see the outcome or why he is asking us to obey him, we must trust that he has our best interest in mind and ultimately cares for us in a way that we can’t possibly begin to imagine. This is why he gives his people commands to follow. And willful obedience to his commands demonstrates that we are abiding in Christ and his love in us. Jesus shows that a sign of our abiding relationship with him is that we would desire to follow his commandments. Our obedience displays our love to him. This is the same way with earthly parents. When you obey and follow them, it demonstrates that you have love and respect and honor them. This kind of obedience is not a “have-to” kind of obedience. This is a “want-to” obedience. If you are abiding in Christ, if your mind, will and affections are centered on Christ then everything in you desires to obey his word, to live in accordance with Scripture, to be Christ-like in all you do, and when you fail you desire to come back to him and allow him to embrace you and set you back on the path of obedience. This is a loving obedience that gives your life purpose and brings about a fruitful life.
Jesus even tells us why he has commanded these things. Verse 11 says that its all about joy. Do you have true joy this morning? I’m not talking about just smiling and telling everyone you are fine. I’m talking about a restful assurance that knows that you belong to Jesus Christ and the joy that produces in your life and spills out over into everything you do. God doesn’t give us commands to follow not out of guilt or reluctance; he gives us these so that we would have maximum joy. This is another of the fruits of the Spirit from Galatians 5. Jesus wants to have people who have an infectious joy for life and people. This is the kind of joy that makes other people see that there is something different about you. This is a joy that remains even if life gets hard. This doesn’t mean you are fake-happy all the time, but this is an attitude that shows others no matter what, you have a greater joy than this world can ever offer you. This is why Jesus gives us these loving commands and this is what he’s looking for in those who abide in him. We see here another reason for Jesus giving us commands: love. This is the greatest fruit among all other according to Paul in 1 Corinthians 13.
Jesus calls us to love each other as he has loved us. How has Jesus loved us? The greatest love is to give yourself up on behalf of others. Jesus did this through his obedience to the Father to the point of death on a cross. Paul gives a beautiful description of this in Philippians 2. He says that Jesus counted equality with God as nothing, taking the form of a servant, and being obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Our mindset towards one another is to be one of self sacrifice. Giving up ourselves to one another demonstrates an intimate connection to the living vine of Christ as you mirror his acts and life. If we are abiding in Jesus, if we have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ, then he calls us our friends. And as a friend, we too receive the benefit of his laying his life down for us. This is the ultimate act of love. Though none of us deserve it, Jesus laid his life down for us so we might have eternal life and friendship with God. This is the essence of justification. We are made right with God because Jesus took the punishment for our sin that we rightly deserve and God transfers the holiness of Christ to us when we believe in him by faith and we are made friends with God. If you have not trusted in Christ by faith, you are not a friend of God and the righteous judgment of God against sin remains on you. Only the righteousness of Christ can make you right with God, and proclaiming faith in Christ that righteousness can be yours today. Only in an abiding relationship with Christ—a relationship wherein you are connected to Christ as the true vine and he is your most greatest treasure and joy—will produce fruit which is pleasing to him and glorifying to God.
Here we see that its God who chooses us to do this task for his glory. His disciples ultimately had nothing to offer Jesus. Though these men did great things for God, there was nothing which God needed that they could offer. Jesus chose them. God chose these men not because of their ability but because of his grace and desire to see them bear fruit. They had nothing to offer God; God had everything to offer them. I know many families who have been adopted children and I have friends who have been adopted. You see, adoption isn’t based on what the child can offer the parent. Adoption is based on what the parent can offer to the child. The parents chose the child in order that the child may be loved and cared for and that the child would grow and become a fruitful person. Parents adopt children because they want to love them and bring them into their family. They choose them. This is how God chooses us. Out of his love and joy he chooses us to come into his family so that we might grow in his love and become fruitful people who ultimately display his glory. The Scriptures say that when we come to Jesus in faith, declaring him to be Lord and asking him to forgive us of sin, that we become adopted children in the kingdom of God. The miracle of faith, according to Scripture, is that it shows that we are chosen by God. And once we realize that we are chosen, that we have been adopted, we are free to experience the love and joy that God has to offer and we are invited into the fruitful life of abiding in Christ.
Out of joy and thankfulness for choosing us, we desire to obey our heavenly father and seek after holy fruit that will grow and display the lovingkindness of our adoptive Father. Only those who abide in Christ will bear fruit for Christ. God desires to see his people be fruitful. An abiding relationship with Jesus Christ, clinging to the true vine, will produce fruit which is pleasing to him. God chooses us out of his love so that we may choose to bear fruit for him.