Jesus said, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you” (John 15:16, NKJV). Many sincere Christians think bearing fruit means simply to bring souls to Christ. Bearing fruit, though, means something much larger even than soulwinning.

The fruit Jesus is talking about is Christ-likeness. Simply put, bearing fruit means reflecting the likeness of Jesus. The phrase “much fruit” means “the ever-increasing likeness of Christ.” Growing more and more into Jesus’ likeness is our core purpose in life. It has to be central to all our activities, our lifestyle, our relationships. Indeed, all our gifts, callings, work, ministry and witness must flow out of this core purpose.

If I am not Christlike at heart, if I’m not becoming noticeably more like him, I have missed God’s purpose in my life.

God’s purpose for me can’t be fulfilled by what I do for Christ. It can’t be measured by anything I achieve, even if I heal the sick or cast out demons. No, God’s purpose is fulfilled in me only by what I am becoming in him. Christlikeness isn’t about what I do for the Lord but rather how I’m being transformed into his likeness.

Go into a Christian bookstore and read the titles on the shelves. Most are self-help books on how to overcome loneliness, survive depression, find fulfillment. Why is this? It’s because we have it all wrong. We aren’t called to be successes and be free of all trouble. No, we are missing the one calling that’s meant to be central to our lives, to become fruitful in the likeness of Christ.

Jesus was totally given to the Father. He stated, “I don’t do or say anything except what my Father tells me.”

Does your desire to bear “much fruit” spring forth from wanting to become more like Christ? We fulfill our life’s purpose only as we begin to love others like Christ has loved us. “As the Father loved me, I also have loved you; abide in my love” (John 15:9). His command is clear and simple: “Give to others the unconditional love I have shown you.” We grow more Christlike as our love for others increases. Bearing fruit comes down to how we treat people.