Jesus is continually calling us into a deeper relationship with Him, to live a life that is both fruitful and secure. But how do we do that? Banning Liebscher of Jesus Culture, Sacremento unpacks the importance of where we are planted in becoming abundantly fruitful followers of Christ…
“He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season
Whose leaf shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.”
“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.
(John 15: 5 & John 15: 16)
If you are a follower of Jesus, then your calling and destiny are to be fruitful. Fruit means that when people taste your life, you taste like Jesus. If you are fully grafted into Jesus, the vine, then he says your life should produce tangible results that make people say, “Now that is Christlike.”
But there’s a difference between much fruit and fruit that will last. God isn’t satisfied with temporary results. He’s in the business of permanent change. He’s not looking for a month, or a year or a decade of you growing more like Jesus and pursuing the things he’s calling you to do. He’s looking for a lifetime impact, a generational impact, and an eternal impact.
If you are a follower of Jesus, then your calling and destiny are to be fruitful. Fruit means that when people taste your life, you taste like Jesus.
Abundant, enduring fruitfulness is the mandate on your life. Ultimately, enduring fruitfulness in your life, and the rest of the body of Christ, is the key to seeing nations transformed, cities impacted and culture shaped. But abundant, enduring fruitfulness will only happen, Jesus says, if you “remain in” him. What does that mean?
the power of roots
In the growth cycle of fruit-bearing plants, fruit comes at the very end. The cycle starts with a seed being planted in the ground. When watered, the seed will break open and begin to put down roots. That root system will continue to grow as the seed forms a shoot and eventually breaks through the surface of the soil into air and sunlight. Both the plant and the root system will keep growing until the plant is strong enough and mature enough to bear fruit.
Significantly, in order for a plant to survive, much less bear fruit, its root system has to take up more space underground than the plant takes up above ground. This is the principle of foundations. A foundation always has to be bigger than the thing it is supporting.
Jesus concluded his mind-blowing Sermon on the Mount with the following statement on foundations:
“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.”
building our lives on the rock
One of my concerns right now is that our lives are being built on the shifting sands of our feelings rather than on the rock of the sayings of Jesus. We live in a society that is guided by what feels right. You hear people say, “That just doesn’t feel like God.” But neither feelings nor popular opinion, which so easily sways our feelings, determine truth in our lives. Truth is not rooted in our feelings or opinions, but in Scripture.
My intent is not to diminish the value of our emotions. I value emotion and connect with God emotionally, along with other dimensions of my being. And I believe that when the Lord speaks to me, there is an emotional component to that experience. However, every aspect of my experience needs to be tested and understood through the lens of Scripture. The Bible has to come before our feelings or imagination. The default question when looking at any area of our lives must be, “What does the Bible say about this?”. If you are going to navigate the root-growing process well, it is critical that you know the truth of the Word.
The Bible has to come before our feelings or imagination. The default question when looking at any area of our lives must be, “What does the Bible say about this?”. If you are going to navigate the root-growing process well, it is critical that you know the truth of the Word.
Being rooted in the Scriptures will not only help us stand on the firm foundation of truth, instead of our thoughts and emotions, but it will bring correction and order to our internal world so that our thoughts and emotions will come to reflect the truth. Ultimately, we must learn every aspect of who we are, from our beliefs to our personalities, temperaments, and behaviour styles, under the authority of Scripture. The truth of the Scriptures will also bring health and order to our emotions.
Our emotions are very much connected to whatever we are meditating on and believing. If we want to be able to trust that our emotions are reflecting the truth, then we must hold them up to the truth of the Scriptures. How common is it for people to experience powerful emotions that are connected to negative beliefs about themselves or God? “I feel like God is angry with me. I feel like God is disappointed. I feel like God is mad. He’s not going to take care of me. There is no hope.” All of these are lies, no matter how real they feel. If you want to align your emotions with truth, you need to go to the Word and find out what God says and thinks about you.
“I feel like God is angry with me. I feel like God is disappointed. I feel like God is mad. He’s not going to take care of me. There is no hope.” All of these are lies, no matter how real they feel.
Do you know how to determine the value of something? Find out the highest price people are willing to pay for it. Likewise, when struggling to know our value, we must look at Scriptures and see what God was willing to pay for us. The price He paid was so huge that we can’t fathom it. He paid the price of becoming one of us, of serving us, of suffering for us, of dying for us, of raising us up with Him.
The testimony in the Scriptures of the value in which He holds each of us, and of what He thinks of us, is overwhelming. If you want a good place to start reading about it, go to Romans 8:
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose…
If God is of us who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not, with Him also, freely give us all things?…
Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
(Romans 8:1, 28, 31-32, 37-39)
That’s just a fragment of one chapter in this amazing book, and if that doesn’t make you feel some things, you’re not reading it right. Delight and meditate on that until you start to feel it. That’s when you know your roots are getting planted in the Word.
Banning founded the Jesus Culture ministry while on staff at Bethel Church. He now lives with his family in the capital of California and leads Jesus Culture Sacramento.