As I write I am sitting in the sun lounge of my new home with the sun streaming in and the window open so I can hear the red kites calling. It’s been a lovely day, gathering for worship, connecting with people I am enjoying getting to know, then lunch in the botanical gardens with a friend. I am currently in the midst of major transition both personally and at work, there are many unresolved situations, but as I sit here having made my first rent payment, I am very conscious of the generous faithfulness of God.
This week I have been pondering the theme of fruitfulness. What is the key to fruitfulness and, when we aren’t experiencing it what does that tell us? As you know I have just spent a couple of weeks with the Fusion team in Albania and true to say I have been impacted by this incredible bunch! I am learning so much as I reflect on my journey with them. They are fruitful. If they only have 60 young people on a Day Trip where Jesus is introduced and the opportunity to respond to him is given, they are disappointed. These Day Trips happen once every one to three months! They have the freedom of the city of Korce – they are able to run community festivals in the main square at any time with no notice. In fact the city authorities ask for their involvement with any community event; they know they will create a positive, wholesome culture. They have a growing national profile with the theatre productions they put on… and the list goes on with lives transformed at every turn.
They don’t have an office. They don’t have a PR plan. They don’t have a web site. They don’t write newsletters often. They don’t have financial structures and systems – partly because they don’t have any finances! They do spend most of their time in coffee shops, meeting, connecting! They thrive on each other’s company. They love to worship together. They have a church that loves them, commissions them, supports them, partners with them, and compliments their ministry.
In John 15 Jesus tells us that our purpose is to be fruitful and in so doing bring God glory. He then gives us some clues as to have we can make sure that happens. He says we need to remain in and with him, in his love; he nails it by describing our relationship with him as friendship. “Don’t act like my servants, franticly trying to please me, just be my friends, get to know me and live the way I do. An easy way to live the way I do is to do the things I ask, I don’t ask much, but the most important thing I ask is that you love one another like I have loved you.” (my paraphrase!)
There is a little trick here that I haven’t spotted before: as you love me the way Jesus loves, I will experience his love… you are causing me to remain in his love. So in the context of fellowship that is fuelled by Christ’s love, together we obey both his command to love each other as he does and his command to remain in his love.
So the keys to fruitfulness that Jesus highlights are: loving God and getting to know him as a friend, authentic fellowship where we love each other as Christ would, and lastly asking God for stuff. That’s it. It doesn’t have to complicated, it doesn’t have to be frantic. It’s the way Jesus lived… which does mean that it could get messy and it will involve death, but it will be fruitful and give God much glory.