"Abide in me, and I in you" (John 15:4)
When a new graft is placed in a vine, and it abides there, a twofold process takes place. The first is in the wood. The graft shoots its little roots and fibers down into the stem, the stem grows up into the graft, and the structural union is completed. The graft abides and becomes one with the vine. Even if the vine were to die, the graft would still be one wood with it. Then, there is the second process. The sap of the vine enters the new structure, and uses it as a passage through which sap can flow into the young shoots and leaves and fruit. Here is the vital union - into the graft which abides in the stock, the stock enters with sap to abide in it. When our Lord says, "Abide in Me, and I in you," He points to something analogous to this. "Abide in Me": that refers more to that which we have to do. We have to trust and obey, to detach ourselves from all else. We must reach out after Him and cling to Him, to sink ourselves into Him. As we do this - through the grace He gives - a character is formed, and a heart prepared for the fuller experience: "I in you." God strengthens us with might by the Spirit in the inner man, and Christ dwells in the heart by faith.
Many believers pray and long very earnestly for the filling of the Spirit and the indwelling of Christ. They wonder why they do not make more progress. The reason is often this, the "I in you" cannot come because the "abide in Me" is not maintained. "There is one body, and one Spirit" (Ephesians 4:4). Before the Spirit can fill, the body must be prepared. The graft must have grown into the stem, and be abiding in it, before the sap can flow through to bring forth fruit. If in lowly obedience we follow Christ, even in external things (denying ourselves, forsaking the world), and seek to be conformable to Him, and to abide in Him, then we may be able to receive and enjoy the "I in you." The work required of us: "Abide in Me," will prepare us for the work undertaken by Him: "I in you."
In. The two parts of the commandment have their unity in that central, deep-meaning word "in." There is no deeper word in Scripture. God is in all. God dwells in Christ. Christ lives in God. We are in Christ. Christ is in us: our life taken up into His; His life received into ours. In a divine reality that words cannot express, we are "in" Him and He is "in" us. And the words, "Abide in Me and I in you," just tell us to believe in this divine mystery. We are to count on our God the Husbandman, and Christ the Vine, to make it divinely true. No thinking or teaching or praying can grasp it - it is a divine mystery of love. As little as we can influence the relationship, can we understand it. Let us just look upon this infinite, divine, omnipotent Vine loving us, holding us, working in us. Let us, in the faith of His working, abide and rest in Him, ever turning heart and hope to Him alone. And let us count on Him to fulfill in us the mystery: "Ye in Me, and I in you."
Blessed Lord, You bid me to abide in You. How can I abide, Lord, except by Your showing Yourself to me, waiting to receive and welcome and keep me? I ask You to show me how You, as the Vine, undertake to do all. To be occupied with You is to abide in You. Here I am, Lord, a branch, cleansed and abiding - resting in You, and awaiting the inflow of Your life and grace. Amen