“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….” (John 15:16)
That seems to settle it. We did not choose Jesus. Jesus chose us. He also appointed us that we should go and bear much fruit and determined that our fruit should “abide”. There doesn’t seem much for us to do. God, the vinedresser, will do His work and cause us to beat fruit. Right?
But then, why did Jesus direct his followers, “Abide in me”? That is a command, and a command requires a response. A response requires volition. Volition requires the exercise of the will, and that suggests we have a choice to make.
So whose choice is it?
So let’s be clear about this. We didn’t choose Jesus. He chose us, and he chose us to bear fruit… but then He asks us to do something. He says that we must abide. We don’t bear fruit if we don’t abide:
“As the branch cannot bear fruit but itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4-5)
We can’t bear fruit apart from Jesus; we can only bear fruit if we abide in him.
But lest we think that we are left to our own devices, now that Jesus has chosen us, He makes it clear our abiding in Him isn’t enough! He must abide also in us.
Clearly, the relationship is reciprocal.
This is all well and good, but how do we abide in Jesus?
“If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Fathers commandments….” (John 15:10)
Taking it a step further, Jesus adds:
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.” (John 15:12-13)
After God chooses us and appoints us to bear fruit, we must abide in Him and allow Him and His word to abide in us. This requires doing on our part. We are not passive in this process. We must keep God’s commands, and that means loving others by laying down (laying aside) our own lives.
We must do all of this to beat fruit, which is what God appointed us to do.
And here is the kicker: if we don’t abide in Jesus, we die because a branch can’t live apart from the vine. It withers and dies when it is disconnected from the vine. It’s good for nothing but to be burned. (John 15:6)
So – Jesus chooses us out of the world, but we have to engage Him in that choice by exercising our own choice to abide in Him, by exercising our own choice of letting His word abide in us, by exercising our own choice to abide in love, which means following His example of laying down our lives for others.
Yes, Jesus chooses us … so that we can choose Him.