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“ABIDE IN ME, AND I IN YOU”

As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; so neither can ye, except ye abide in Me. – John 15:4

“Abide in Me, and I in you.” That is the ideal of the Christian life, a reciprocal mutual dwelling of Christ in us and of us in Christ. These two thoughts are but two sides of the one truth, the interpenetration, by faith and love, of the believing heart and the beloved Saviour, and the community of spiritual life as between them. The one sets forth more distinctly Christ’s gracious activity and wondrous love, by which He condescends to enter into the narrow room of our spirits, and to communicate their life and all the blessings He can bestow. The other sets forth more distinctly our activity, and suggests the blessed thought of a home and a shelter, an inexpugnable fortress and a sure dwelling-place, a habitation to which all generations may continually resort. He dwells in us as the spirit or the life in the body communicated to every part, and vitalizing every part. We dwell in Him as the limb dwells in the frame, or, as He Himself has put it, as the branch dwells in the vine.

Now this thought, in its two sides, as seems to me, is far too little present to the consciousness and to the experience, to the doctrinal belief and to the personal verification of that belief in our own lives, of the mass of Christian people. To me it is the very heart of Christianity, for which that which, in the popular apprehension, has all but crowded it out of view – viz., Christ for us – is the preface and introduction. I do not want that that great truth should be in any measure obscured, but I do want that, inseparably connected with it in our belief and in our experience, there should be far more than there is, the companion sister-thought, Christ in us and we in Christ.

You may call that “mystical,” if you like. I am not frightened at a word. There is a good and there is a bad mysticism. And there is no grasp of the deepest things of religion without that which the irreligious mind thinks that it has disposed of by the cheap and easy sneer that it is ” mystical.”  If it is true that we can only speak of spiritual experiences in the terms of analogies drawn from material things; if it is true that where a man’s treasure is there his heart is, wherever his body may be; if it is true that loving hearts, even in the imperfect unions of earth, do interpenetrate and enclose one another; – then the mysticism which says ” Christ in me and I in Christ ” is abundantly vindicated. And your Christianity will be a shallow one, unless the truths which these two great complementary thoughts suggest be truths verified in your experience.

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