What does it mean to bear fruit? What do we think of first of all, when we hear these words? Most of us probably associate “bearing fruit” with performance. We bring fruit when we “bring” something, do something, when we work in our own strength and something emerges from it. Because performance is important and expected in many areas such as school, work, household, etc., this meaning is often the first that comes to our mind.
In our everyday life we are constantly challenged, students should get good grades, the working person should do a good job and the housewife should bring the eating to the table on time.
Also in the Bible Jesus speaks of bearing fruit and that we are destined to bear fruit. In John 15: 1-5 we read:
“I am the real vine and my father is the vine grower. Every branch on me that does not bear fruit he cuts away, and every branch that bears fruit he cuts back and cleanses it so that it bears even more fruit. However, you are already clean because you have heard and accepted my word. Abide in me and i abide in you! A vine cannot bear fruit by itself; it must stay on the vine. You cannot bear fruit either if you do not remain connected to me. I am the vinetribe; you are the vines. Whoever remains in me and I in him brings abundant fruit. Because apart from me you cannot do anything.”
How fruit grows in nature? A seed is sown, a vine grows and forms the branches that are connected to the vine. A vine cannot grow fruit from itself. Jesus makes a comparison. He is the vine, God the Father is the vine gardener and every person who has heard and accepted God’s word is a branch. How can we be branches that bear fruit? No fruit can arise from one’s own strength, through one’s own performance or actions. We are not the root that has to make its way through stones and rocks to the water and hold the plant. Nor are we the tribe that has to procure food and carry the plant. We are the branches that are simply attached to the vine and receive the sap of the plant. This is how we should stay connected with Jesus in order to bear fruit. The relationship with Jesus, to remain in him, is the prerequisite for fruit to grow in our life.
The fruits that grow on a vine also have their purpose. The grape is a food that strengthens people and it also carries the seeds of the vine and passes them on. And so, if we remain connected to Jesus, we can live in our destiny and develop fruits that strengthen and encourage our fellow human beings and pass on what Jesus gives us, his love, his peace, his hope, his light. The fruits that arise from the connection, relationship with Jesus are written down in Galatians 5:22:
“But the fruit that the spirit grows is: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, loyalty, gentleness and self-control”
God’s purpose for us does not lie in performance and our own “doing”, but in “being” children of God and making Jesus, who lives in us, visible in our lives.