I can remember when I was a young and very ambitious Christian attending church whenever the doors swung open. I was teaching a Sunday school class, participating and leading the street ministry, and coaching youth basketball. I did not realize all the while, my emotional and spiritual “batteries” were running down.
My Pastor would often say to the ministers “be ready” we never knew when he would call our name to speak to the congregation; he may give us a week to prepare or a minute to prep either way we were expected to be ready. I remember being in service and going numb after hearing my name announced as the next voice to be heard after the choir selection. I was sitting there and I realized that I had nothing to say. The choir was singing a rather short song I could only hope they would get excited and keep singing; I was terrified! I had no idea what I was going to do.
I remember closing my eyes praying asking for for the singing to go on forever, in my mind I cried out to God. At some point, I desperately said, “God, something about my life isn’t right. Please, help me!” Then I opened my Bible and my eyes both landed on John 15. I read this passage quietly to myself:
“I am the true vine. My Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch joined to me that does not bear fruit. He trims every branch that does bear fruit. Then it will bear even more fruit. Remain joined to me, and I will remain joined to you. No branch can bear fruit by itself. It must remain joined to the vine. In the same way, you can’t bear fruit unless you remain joined to me.”
In this passage, Jesus is talking to His disciples just before His death. He uses an allegory of a vineyard to illustrate the goal of our lives as believers and how we can have the most rewarding life that He intended for us. As I read the passage, I realized the reason I was so exhausted and I did not have anything to say that day it was because I was not fully connected to the vine, which is Jesus.
Perhaps you are wondering, how could I not be connected to Jesus if I was a Christian minister? It is true I am a Christian, and a minister I was even reading my Bible, praying, and working in the church! However, I learned it was unfortunately at superficial level. I was so busy that I never had time to truly take in God and His word, to really talk with Him to get to know Him. I was too busy to simply be still and know that He is God. (Psalm 46:10)
The truth is, I had gotten to the point where I was literally, physically, and emotionally tired, I was burned out. I was serving God in many ways, but I did not really have a close relationship with Him. There was little to no intimacy at all, I was not joined to Him.
What I discovered during that time is that God’s goal for our lives is not about our busyness or the activity we do for Him. Our goal is to bear “fruit” for the purpose of glorifying God and building His Kingdom. Moreover, the way we bear this fruit is only through cultivating a close intimate relationship with Jesus.
So what is “fruit”? Galatians 5:22-23 says, “…The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Remember, since this fruit is the “fruit of the Spirit”, by its very nature we cannot produce it on our own strength, by trying harder or by being more religious, or spiritual. The only way we can bear this fruit – and fruit that lasts – is when our relationship with Jesus becomes our first priority and we remain joined with Him.
The greatest thing you will ever do for yourself, your family, for your friends, your communities, and above all for your relationship with God is to remain joined to Jesus. Remaining joined means hearing and reading God’s Word for the purpose of putting it into daily practice every moment of your life. It also means responding to the Spirit’s prompting and being obedient. Then the Holy Spirit supernaturally produces “fruit” through us. We just have to take the time to cultivate our relationship with Him.