As we saw last week, Jesus encourages us to grow in our relationship with God and do more than just believe. He is calling us to be His disciples (John 8:31-32). So what does it mean to move beyond belief and be a disciple of Jesus?
To be a disciple of Jesus means that we imitate His ministry. We have been called to bear fruit (John 15:8). You know a tree by the fruit that it produces. A Christian tree produces fruit that looks like Christ. Christ cared about those who were hungry, sick, experienced injustice, children and widows. He cared about sinners who were looking to turn their lives around in a positive direction.
John 15 reminds us of God’s expectation that we bear fruit, bear more fruit, and eventually bear much fruit. If we want to bear fruit we must remain and abide with Jesus, the true vine. We will not be productive without Christ. A branch that is not attached to the vine will not produce fruit. We must stay connected to Christ in order to produce the fruit that pleases God. It is in Christ that we receive the nutrients needed to bear fruit. We have to be intentional about staying connected. There are no accidental disciples of Christ.
God prunes us so that we will bear more fruit (v. 2). God prunes us to cleanse us and He cleanses us to use us. He prunes us through His word (v.3). The more of the word we know, the more we are able to do with what we know. God’s word is designed to reveal sin and empower us to live godly lives. Our fruitfulness is determined by our connection to the vine. We cannot have a strong connection to Jesus without knowing and understanding His word.
God the Father also prunes us by cutting away those things that jeopardize our fruitfulness. Pruning can be a painful process. We may have jobs, friends, family members, fears, or relationships that are preventing us from being more fruitful. There may be some people planted around us who are like weeds, taking all of the good stuff out of our lives and choking us so that we can't grow. We would be more fruitful if we weren’t trying to hang on to what God wants to prune out of our lives.
Pruning does not simply mean spiritual surgery that removes what is bad. It can also mean cutting away the good and the better so that we might produce the best. It takes pruning to bear more fruit and move beyond belief.
Minister Ross' creativity, wisdom, and insight have inspired community, church and corporate audiences throughout the United States.