“Remain in me, and I will remain in you,” Jesus said (John 15:4). A simple command, it seems. And yet, we overlook it.
If Jesus must tell us to remain in him, then he seems to be assuming that it is quite possible not to remain in him. The common life is, in fact, a life lived separate from him. And that is a dangerous place to live. We cannot enjoy the fellowship of God, or his protection, or all the benefits of his kingdom unless we remain in him—that is, live in him—in our day-to-day lives. Vine and branches, Shepherd and sheep. Stay close. Stay with me, Jesus is saying. An old saint said to me years ago that the devil doesn’t so much care what particular thing he gets us to fall prey to. His primary aim is simply to get us to do something outside of Christ, for then we are vulnerable.