Some people who enjoy classical music go out for the evening to take in the symphony while others would rather stay home and listen to their favorite sonata, overture or philharmonic. As a child, I remember my father playing Bach, Mozart or Beethoven on the reel-to-reel or the vinyl records through over-sized floor speakers.
The musicians in the orchestra have spent a lot of time working at the thing that they love to do and mastering their instrument. Each individual artist continues to learn, grow and to refine their skill in order to contribute their part to the overall good of the group. Consider how the symphony would sound if a few of the musicians didn’t show up? What would happen if some refused to practice and arrived unprepared? What if a couple of people forgot their music or if one in the back did not tune their instrument? If even a couple at the side refused to follow the conductor’s lead, the perfomance would be a noticeable failure.
The local church is called the body of Christ, with Jesus Himself as the head (Ephesians 1:22; 4:15; 5:23; Colossians 1:18; 2:19). The human body has various individual and unique parts, but they are all connected together, and they work in concert as one so that collectively it has incredible form and function. We may compare God’s plan and purpose for the church to a philharmonic, which translated into English is “love for harmony”.
Paul, writing to the church at Rome, reminds the people of their essential need for unity and togetherness in 12:16, by saying “Live in harmony with one another.” Paul recognizes that we are uniquely different in our talents, our desires and passions (Rom 12:4) “For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function.” We do not need to be envious of who someone else is or what they have, because God has created us all with His purpose in mind and for His glory (1 Corinthians 12:4-6). We must not feel unneeded, unnecessary nor unworthy because every part is vitally essential for the working of the body.
Some in the orchestra are upfront. They have a lot of play time and may be louder than most. But even the second fiddle is needed to bring wholeness and beauty to the overall sound. Paul addressed the struggle of “the small part” or the seemingly insignificant member of the body in 1 Corinthians 12:22: when he wrote: “The parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor.” No one should say (or even think), because I am not like that other brother or sister, I am not needed. (1 Corinthians 12:15-17)
On the other hand, no one can say, “We don’t need you because I am better than you or more valuable than you.” (1 Corinthians 12:21). Every person has their own piece to play according to the composer’s arrangement. In Romans 12:16, Paul writes, “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.” The context of being humble, of fellowshiping with everyone and refusing to be proud or seeming to “know-it-all”, is in order that the “band of believers” (the church) can play beautiful music (metaphor for loving, honoring, serving each other) in the unity that comes through the Holy Spirit.
It is easier to be humble, kind and loving when we remember that the gifts that we have come from God. He has given to each the ability and opportunity to have their talent. The Lord has assigned both the “measure of faith” (Romans 12:3) and the “grace given to us” (Romans 12:5) as it relates to our work in the body of Christ. The purpose of my talent is not to inflate my ego or to have power over others. It is instead, to serve others (1 Peter 4:10) and glorify God (Colossians 3:17; 23-24).
The body of Christ is connected to the head, Jesus Christ. He is the conductor of the orchestra. Each person in the chair must be willing to carefully and faithfully follow the direction of the conductor in order to make the music which God has written, creating unity through diversity. Each one must play their part, must be on the same page, have an attitude of humility and give all they can, for successful, effectual and fruitful service.
Those who achieve remarkable success in music not only have talent and skill, but they also have a love and a passion for what they do. It truly becomes who they are – the feeling of “I was born for this.” When they play their instrument, they feel fulfilled and free.
In just that way, Christians should recognize the high calling of serving the Lord and to do so with passion and zeal. When we realize how much God loves us and how much He has given of Himself so that we could be a part of the Body of Christ, our work and service will flow from a heart of gratitude and a desire to glorify Him.
When the local church lives together in unity, in love, humility, sacrifice and service the world will be blessed and it will become obvious that God is working in us and through us. Jesus said, “By this all people will know that know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35) Jesus’ prayer with the disciples before His death included the plea, “That they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that You sent Me and loved them even as You loved Me.” (John 17:23)
Let us then resolve to continue faithfully investing our time, our treasure, and talents in the church and in the world for the benefit of others to the praise and glory of God. “From whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” (Ephesians 4:16)