Abiding in each other - by Dan Stephenson
John 15:1-7 (ESV)
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
We don’t use the word “abide” very often in everyday conversation. Basically abide means to remain or stay. In the Bible, abiding is much more than a “stay here for a while” invitation. It describes a permanent, unchanging condition or relationship.
This is especially true whenever we see the phrase “abide in,” as when we abide in Christ, and he abides in us. It goes both ways. Jesus’ promise to all who believe is that they will abide in him, and he will abide in them (John 15:4,5; see also John 6:56). Notice that he says the same thing about his word. We are to abide in his word, and allow his word to abide in us (John 15:7, see also John 8:31). That’s a puzzling statement. How can he be in us, if we are in him? After all, my pencil may be in the drawer where it belongs, but that doesn't mean the drawer can be in the pencil. But Jesus is describing our mutual spiritual relationship with him.
The Bible often uses the phrase “in Christ” to describe the relationship and the privileges believers have through faith in Jesus. We know that believers have the Holy Spirit as a seal and guarantee of our salvation (2 Corinthians 1:22). And we know that Jesus promised to be with us “always, even always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 18:20). But we shouldn’t forget that Jesus also promised that if we are in him, he will also be in us.
Having Christ abide in us means so much more than a child’s literal understanding of “asking Jesus into your heart.” Inviting Jesus into our lives is not like bringing home one more picture to hang on the wall, or one more book to put on the bookshelf. Allowing Christ into our lives means we recognize and receive his salvation, we accept his authority, and we learn to serve and obey him. He becomes the basis of our values, our priorities, and our life’s mission statement. He is the vine, we are the branches (John 15:5). Or, in a more contemporary illustration, is Jesus your passenger, or is he at the wheel?
Only when Christ abides in us can we experience his power and his peace. Only then can we enjoy the life that is truly life. And there is an obligation: we are called to reflect the character and values of Jesus in our own lives. As John wrote later in his first letter, “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked” (1 John 2:6).
So, as a branch, embrace your relationship to the vine. If you are a believer, you are in Christ. Welcome him to abide also in you.