John 15:16-17 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
The disciple lives out of the core of his spiritual existence in Christ: the call of God and the grace of God bringing spiritual life where there was death by the Atonement. The disciple is overwhelmed by grace in his or her knowledge that is was utterly undeserved personally. Being so honored by God and yet so underserving creates profound humility and surprisingly, unshakeable confidence in the salvation that the disciple possesses.
In our consideration of the amazing, un-understandable grace of God toward us, disciples often turn inwardly to the question, “Why would God do this for me?” But God has not hidden his answer to this profound question. He clearly states one of the reasons that we are possessors of such a great salvation: that we should bear fruit, fruit that lasts. We have a purpose, clearly stated.
Let’s consider fruit for a moment in nature. Genesis tells us that each tree bore fruit ‘after its own kind’. In other words, apple trees produce apples, not pears or walnuts. In every niche of nature, fruit bearing involves reproduction and proliferation to the maximum extent conditions will allow. This gets at the essence of abiding, fruit bearing, and our Lord’s command to “Go and make disciples…’’.
As nature teaches us; it takes a disciple to produce a disciple. Likewise, we have a term for any plant or animal that cannot produce its fruit: barren. Jesus is telling us here that by his or her very nature, the disciple produces fruit after his or her own kind, and that that fruit will last. This is God’s method of spiritual reproduction. It is not ‘adding’, but multiplication. Imagine the proliferation if every true disciple of Christ produced two disciples in their lifetime, or per decade, or per year!
The Great Commission, “Go, and make disciples….” is a command as if to say “Go and make more of yourselves. I have shared my life with you. You have learned my ways and experienced how to live them out. I like what I see, so now go and make more of yourselves….” And, how were they to do it? “…teaching them everything I have commanded you…” A paraphrase might be, “do it just like I did it with you, life-to-life, show them everything, just as I invested all my life and ministry in you.” This command of Christ harkens back to Genesis and Adam and Eve when God said, “This is good!” “Be fruitful and multiply!” He liked what he saw then; he likes the disciple he sees now in you; so be fruitful and multiply! You will establish a spiritual lineage that will last until his return and into eternity.
We immediately put up a mental barrier to this command by imagining it to be some incredible spiritual mountain to be overcome, but it is actually a command to simply be who Christ has made us and to reproduce that in others. We can only effectively guide people as far as we have traveled.
Determine not to be barren as a disciple. Since we will produce after our own kind, prayerfully consider what kind of disciples of Christ you are already producing. The apple tree does not strain to produce apples; it is natural. Abide in Christ until your spiritual multiplication is unconsciously, naturally prolific.