John 15 is a glorious passage. It depicts our Savior as the life-giving, fruit-giving, joy-giving Vine (vv. 1, 5, 11). It urges us to be vitally connected to Him and warns us that we can do nothing without Him (vv. 4-5)—a simultaneously terrifying and hope-giving thought. It contrasts true Christians with false (vv. 2, 6). It challenges us with basic Christian duties: we must know and obey Christ’s Word and to respond to it with prayer (vv. 7, 10, 16). It commands us to respond to Christ’s voluntary and vicarious death by loving one another (vv. 12-17). All the while, it points us repeatedly to the concept of spiritual fruit (vv. 2, 4, 5, 8, 16).
I’ve especially been struck by the gospel-centered ambition of the passage—that whereas every genuine Christian bears spiritual fruit (v. 2a), God works in us that we might bear “more fruit” (v. 2b), and Christ longs that we might bear “much fruit” (vv. 5, 8). I love that. Fruit…more fruit…much fruit, all for God’s glory. There is inherent in the life of the Christian and the church what I call a content ambition, or perhaps an ambitious contentment. We are to rejoice in our current circumstances, whatever they may be (Philippians 4:11-13). We’re content. But we’re never spiritually satisfied. We are ever striving for more–to progress in Christlikeness, to evidence more fruit of the Spirit, to be more faithful in prayer, more effective in evangelism, more useful for our Savior. Christians have an insatiable appetite for God’s greater glory, or at least we should.
I’ll close by quoting men who have described this gospel-centered ambition more eloquently than I can. Grace!
“Beloved, there is the ambition and hope before us of doing something in the way of glorifying God by bringing forth the fruits of holiness, peace, and love…. We are not condemned to inaction; we are not denied the joy of service, the superior blessedness of giving and of doing: the Lord hath chosen us and ordained us to go and bring forth fruit, fruit that shall remain. This is the aspiration which rises in our soul; the Lord grant that we may see it take actual form in our lives.” (C. H. Spurgeon, preaching on John 15)
“We need an ambition that won’t rest until more people are reached, more churches planted, more marriages helped, more art created, more enterprises started, more disciples made. We need an ambition that lives joyfully today but wants more for God and more from God tomorrow.” (Dave Harvey, Rescuing Ambition, 209)