John 15 is rich in principles of fruitfulness – open secrets about how we can be spiritually fruitful in life. These are just four of them.
- Prepare to be pruned (see verse 2). Once we have been made clean by Jesus, continuing in a relationship with him will involve occasional experiences of being pruned. Let’s not be content with just being forgiven when he wants us to be fruitful. And sometimes, God cuts into us in the deepest parts. The discipline of our heavenly Father may be painful at the time but it produces a harvest if we allow ourselves to be trained by it (Hebrews 12:11). The Father is the gardener and he will train us: that includes pruning but it is never to damage and always so we may be more fruitful.
- Make yourself at home with Jesus (see verses 5-7). This is how The Message translates the idea of ‘remaining’ or ‘abiding’. God’s purpose has always been to have his home among humanity (Rev.21:3) and this is what he promised his disciples (John 14:23). A home is a place where you relax and don’t feel you have to pretend to be something you’re not. We can have a daily, conversational relationship with Jesus – a friendship. He is involved in every part of our lives and we are involved in what matters to him. To make a house into a home, it takes time, intentionality and effort. So let’s take the time, make the plans and do the work we need to do to make our home with Jesus.
- Let his message have full occupancy of your life (see verse 7). Jesus said that as well as us abiding in him, we need to allow the Message to abide in us. We are to ‘let the Word of Christ dwell in us richly’ (Col. 3:16), or, as The Message puts it, ‘Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives’. Let’s allow the gospel to have full access to our life, including the hidden places, the junk room that we don’t want others to see. Also, let it get into the everyday space of life. Let this gospel, this message about God making all things new, affect our work, family, leisure, relationships; let it into your attitudes, decisions, the way we speak, think, listen, order the priorities of our lives etc. Our fruitfulness is determined by what fills our life.
- Learn to live with the grain of the universe (see verses 9-17). We are told we will remain in Jesus’s love when we obey his commands. But obeying his commands is not about making sure we keep lots of rules and regulations. Notice all that is said about love in this section, including the amazing words: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.” We don’t get into, or stay in, his love by obeying the rules. He has told us that all the commandments are summed up by love (Matthew 22:37-40). The new command he gives us and repeats here is ‘love one another’ (John 13:34). To love God, to be loved by him and to love others is to live with the grain of the universe because God has designed this universe to work by love. That is why his yoke is easy and his burden is light (Matthew 11:30). The root determines the fruit and Jesus says here ‘the root command is to love.’ (v.17, The Message).