A few years ago Justin Wren was a UFC fighter. At the time he had developed a drug addiction after receiving a prescription for pain killers after suffering a broken arm. His drug use escalated until it was out of control. He would later share he had a hole in his life, in his very soul, that he tried to fill with any drug he could find. Once his career was over he spent his days and nights getting high. He missed his best friend’s wedding, and lost months at a time to blackouts, time he still can’t recall.
A friend would text him for 60 days straight, inviting him to a men’s retreat. Justin went, and there surrendered his life to Christ. He then went on mission trips to the Congo, where he saw incredibly inhumane treatment of Pygmies. He buried a baby there that no doctor would help because the Pygmy tribes are outcasts; abused and enslaved by other tribes. Justin began raising money to see hundreds freed from slavery and to get water to villages.
Today he is back in the MMA ring and shared, “I can’t lose because before I was fighting for myself, but now I am fighting for something bigger than myself.” He has written a new book available at the Cleveland Library entitled Fight for the Forgotten, or better yet if you buy a copy online part of the proceeds go to the Congo outreaches.
Jesus said “Every branch that does bear fruit the Father prunes so that it will be even more fruitful” (John 15:2). It is a powerful promise, that we are pruned to produce more fruit. Fruit is life and energy and nutrition. Fruit contains seed for producing more fruit. In each of us is unlimited potential to reproduce the positive things in our lives for the world to make a difference for Christ.
Some things need to be pruned out by the Father, maybe people or addictions or sins. What Jesus makes clear is that the pruning is for our good and for the good of the world so we can be more effective ambassadors for him. Our love reproduces more love, our forgiveness reproduces more forgiveness, and our giving creates more giving. Fruit contains seed, the more fruit we produce the more Jesus promises he will increase our influence. It is a win win promise. Produce fruit so you can produce more fruit.
Perhaps a great prayer to enter into the new year with is, “Father, what needs pruned out of my life, and how can I produce more fruit so that you can use me to produce more fruit?” Life is found in giving to something that will outlast your life. Make 2016 a year where you know you can’t lose because you won’t simply be living for yourself, but for something bigger than yourself. Then be sure to join us Sundays at Akron First to learn more about this life that is truly life.