Jesus explains that a fruitful relationship with Him is not merely one that revolves around an attempt to please Him by our own efforts. He knows that though this may seem like a good thing, relationship built on this foundation can never be truly fruitful. It’s just not what God ever intended for our life in Him.
What does He really want? God wants what we all want in our relationships: substance. How, then, can we come to experience genuine fruitfulness? It can only be achieved by immersing ourselves in the very life of God’s Spirit. We must learn to commune with our Father.
Above all, God wants you. And He wants you to want Him. He yearns for the kind of relationship that is rooted in our heartfelt need to be with Him. If our efforts to follow Jesus are not coupled with steps towards intimacy, they have little value. Only when He has first place in our heart do all the other things we do take on full meaning. Only then do we become most fruitful.
Can we survive spiritually in a halfhearted relationship with God? Certainly. But merely going through the motions carries about as much weight for Him as it does anyone we attempt to personally interact with.