Ebenezer Stooge saw a strange figure standing before his bed. Its hair was white, yet the spirit's face appeared as young and wrinkle free as a skin cream commercial. It wore a long white gown and seemed to hang weightlessly in the air.
"Who the Dickens are you?" Stooge asked. "What are you doing here?"
The phantom said simply, "I have come to show you your past." The ghostly figure summoned Stooge to follow him. Stooge did, wearing only his over-sized Xena, Warrior Princess T-shirt. They passed through Stooge's bedroom door and into a church, though none of the worshipers seemed to notice his sudden appearance.
"Look around," the phantom said.
Stooge looked around and recognized Carrie, a friend he'd made in Sunday school. Stooge had pretty much ended their friendship after a silly fight they had had in seventh grade. The phantom pointed at another figure. "Remember, in ninth grade you wanted to tell a friend about Christ, but you didn't know how?" Stooge nodded without looking at the figure; the memory was bitter because his friend had moved away soon after, and Stooge had never seen him again. "Carrie had the gift of evangelism, even at that young age. She could have helped you and your friend."
The phantom's bony finger next pointed to "Fish," one of Stooge's high school buddies, whom Stooge hadn't seen in years. Stooge had quit going to church because Fish had wanted him to join the choir. "Fish knows how to worship God in a way that few people do. He'd have been good for you, too."
Stooge began to feel a sinking sensation in his gut, when the strange figure pointed to the pastor. "You never did like him, did you? He just rubbed you the wrong way. But he could have taught you so much about the Bible."
"OK, OK!" Stooge shouted, grabbing the hand of the specter. "I've had enough, OK? I realize that if I hadn't separated myself from so many Christian brothers and sisters over the years, I'd be a much better Christian, a much better person than I am now, OK? If I had it to do all over again, I'd do it all differently."
Suddenly Stooge was back in his own bedroom. He no longer held the phantom's hand, but his fingers clasped his bedpost. The figure was gone, but Stooge heard a voice. "You have your wish," the voice said. "Do it differently."
REFLECT: Ephesians 4:13 says that unity with other Christians can help us become mature and full grown in the Lord. How do you think unity with other Christians can help you in this way? Be as specific as you can.
ACT: Reread Ephesians 4:3-13 in your Bible, circling every occurrence of the words one and unity.
PRAY: "God, help me not to separate myself from other Christians. I want to become full grown in the Lord."