Shortly before Peggy and I married, a friend—who at age 44 seemed as old as Father Time and every bit as wise—shared this insight with me, “Marriage is like putting two rough stones in your pocket—their edges catch and wear on each other, and over time they become two smooth pebbles.” Looking back now, 35 years later, his was a fair simile for our marriage: our understanding of each other has only grown, we appreciate our differences more, and we trust each always has the best interests of the other in mind.
Appealing to the Ephesian believers, Paul urged them to persevere as one: “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit … one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”1 He went on to explain that each of us uses our own gifts to support each other, “so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”2
There is a point in our maturation process when we realize that, together, we grow in ways we could never grow alone. In fact, we cannot reach “the whole measure of fullness of Christ” by ourselves—it’s not a solo act. Paul’s teaching should not surprise us, for unity is the very nature of God, and it is Jesus’ desire that we live in it. Hours before His betrayal, He prayed to the Father on our behalf, “… that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”3
Oneness takes humility and trust—which can be scary—but together we rise to heights of joy and reach to depths of love otherwise unattainable. So we unite, using personal gifts for the common good, submitting pride to humility, discarding harshness for gentleness, replacing blame with forgiveness, rejecting retribution in mercy. We grow up into Christ together, smooth pebbles from rough stones.
Father, how wise your ways. Send your Spirit to move us to a place we have neither the ability nor the inclination to go on our own—to unity with each other and in you. This is your will; may it be so. Amen.
Make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (Philippians 2:2-4)
1 Ephesians 4:3-6
2 Ephesians 4:12, 13
3 John 17:22, 23