Must I, exclusively and absolutely, as the branch abides in the vine, be totally and completely absorbed into Christ, and Christ alone? The answer is a resounding "Yes, I must!" His words "unless you abide" is as universal as the "unless it abides." The "neither can you" admits no exception, bargaining, or modification. If I am to be a true branch,if I am to bear fruit, if I am to be what Christ as the Vine wants me to be, my whole being must be completely devoted to abiding in Him just as that of the natural branch is to abiding in the vine.
Every aspect of our lives must be the true abiding and wholehearted submerging of ourselves in Christ and His life. We cannot be submerged in financial gain, job promotions, gathering property, keeping up with the Joneses; while at the same time, claiming to give our whole being to Christ. Seeking the trappings of this life, this world, excludes the giving of ourselves wholeheartedly. A choice must be made to serve one, or the other, not both at the same time. We are told we cannot serve God and Mammon at the same time. Once again, there is no bargaining, no negotiation, no modification to His message which has been handed down to us from the time of the prophets, found in scripture, to this very day.
There is the danger of doing a great deal of work with very little fruit in return. We must allow the words, "cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides" to do their work of searching and exposing, of pruning and cleansing all that there is of the self, and the self-will and self-confidence in our lives.
"Your life is hidden with Christ in God" (Colossians 3:3)! That life is a heavenly mystery, hid from the wise even among Christians and revealed only to babes. The childlike spirit learns that life is given from Heaven every second of every minute of every hour of the day and every moment to the soul that accepts the teaching "cannot....of itself, unless it abides" and seeks its all in the Vine, Christ. Abiding in the vine then becomes nothing more or less than the restful surrender of the soul to let Christ have all and work all.