Recently, our ministry staff and spouses enjoyed a weekend retreat of rest, fellowship, and worship. During a Discovery Bible Study we reflected on a portion of John 15, where Jesus talks about being the true vine that sustains our lives. Jesus says…
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
The phrase that jumped out at me as we were reading and talking about this passage was, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”
In that one sentence Jesus assures us that he is for us because he wants to share his joy with us and reminds us that he just told us how to find complete joy in Him.
According to John 15:5-11, the key to experiencing joy in Jesus is…
- Remaining (or, abiding) in Jesus.
- Dwelling on his words.
- Obeying his commands.
- Bearing fruit to the glory of God.
This is the essence of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. Disciples are people who continuously choose to remain (abide) in Jesus by dwelling on his words, obeying his commands, and bearing fruit that is consistent with the will of the Father.
If we do these things consistently, Jesus promises that our joy in Him will be complete, meaning full. In other words, these lifestyle habits will result in a joyful experience that is meaningful and fulfilling.
But let me clarify one thing.
What does it mean to “bear fruit”?
In this context, the phrase “bear much fruit” refers to the outcome of a disciple’s entire life and ministry. In their lives and ministry, disciples, then, reflect the character of God and he is glorified as people catch glimpses of what he is truly like. In doing this, Jesus says that these disciples are “showing yourselves to be my disciples.”
But in light of the “Great Commission,” bearing fruit also includes the making of disciples through teaching and baptizing. So, making Jesus known to others and mentoring others in how to live as a Christ-follower now becomes an essential component to experiencing joy in Christ.
And I can attest that this is true. The most joy I have felt has come through being used by God to help others know Christ. Currently, the highlight of my week (other than discipling my own daughter) is my Discipleship Group that meets on Tuesday nights. There, I disciple and am discipled by two men who have become true spiritual friends to me. Every time I leave our meeting, I am energized by the power of the Holy Spirit.
One of the reasons for this is because I have reached a stage in my spiritual walk where the way for me to keep growing in Christ is to disciple/mentor others in the way of Christ and to be mentored myself.
In my experience, most Christians are robbing themselves of the “complete” joy that Christ promises because they aren’t taking the next step in fruit-bearing, which is to intentionally help someone else learn to abide in Christ.
But you have the power to change that.
If you want your joy in Christ to be complete, invite a couple of people you know to get together once a week for the purpose of discipling each other in the words of Jesus. A Discovery Bible Study provides an easy way to do that, and you can find out more about it here.
If you want to experience complete joy in Christ, remain in Jesus, dwell on his words, obey his commands…
But don’t forget to bear fruit!