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Over time, we all come across ideas that change the way we think about ourselves. For me, one of those thoughts is that a well-lived life is more like a symphony than a solo.

The point takes nothing away from a solo. I love hearing Willie Nelson sing “September Song,” or LeAnn Rimes do her version of “Blue.” A single voice performance even makes its own life lesson: Every life is like a center-stage solo in the eyes of our Creator. One person at a time, we are all being judged on our own act (Rom 14:7-12).

But there is something more important than our own show. Our individual performances are part of something much greater. In the grander scheme, we aren’t just here to sing our own song. All who are in Christ are members of an organization that in some ways is like a symphony orchestra.

The apostle Paul gave us a view of this bigger picture when he wrote, “For in fact the body is not one member but many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,’ is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,’ is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased” (1 Cor 12:14-18).

The human body is like an orchestra. Individual members, important as they are, work for a purpose greater than themselves.

Shared rhythm and mood—Together the members of a symphony create carefully composed and orchestrated moods. Some are quiet and reflective. Others build with great energy and resolve with a flourish. At the direction of their conductor, the members of a well-rehearsed orchestra move as one.

In the wisdom of God, the members of the body of Christ are also designed to resonate and move with one another. When one hurts, those who care share the pain. When one does well, the love of friends and family gives many reasons to be happy (1 Cor 12:25-27). With such resonance and rhythm in view, the apostle Paul urged members of God’s family, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” (Rom 12:15).

When the people of Christ care for one another, they move like the rising and falling emotions of a symphony. This is by our great Composer’s design. As explained by the lyrically beautiful yet profound words of Solomon: “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; . . . a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; . . . a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace” (Ecc 3:1-8).

Tonal blend and variation— To produce contrasting moods and grand sweeps of symphonic harmony a well-trained orchestra moves together through complex notes, chords, scores, rests. So too, the music of God is heard not only in the cooperation of many people, but also in the blending of many spiritual notes, facts, and principles:

  1. The Ten Commandments of the Mosaic Covenant combined to define the boundaries of moral behavior (Exod 20:1-17).
  2. The 9 fruit of the Spirit blend to show what a Spirit-filled follower of Christ looks like (Gal 5:22-23).
  3. The 7 attitudes taught by Christ merge to describe the making of a peacemaker (Matt 5:1-10).
  4. The 7 progressive expressions of diligent faith show that trust works through and in harmony with the essentials of spiritual growth (2Pet 1:5-7).
  5. The 7 marks of wisdom help us recognize the wisdom that comes from God with balance and depth (James 3:17).
  6. The 15 characteristics of real love help us to be sure that our affections and behavior are as loving as we want them to be (1Cor 13).
  7. The 7 pieces of spiritual armor show us why it’s dangerous to think that being in Christ automatically protects us from spiritual attack and failure (Eph 6:10-18).

Every word and principle of God stands on its own, but not alone. Without truth, faith is presumption. Without patience, hope is impulsive. Without love, eloquence is noise (1 Cor 13:1).

The Conductor—Without a director, the members of an orchestra could all be playing their own song. Even in the same symphony they could be on different pages.

So too, the people of Christ need a great Director who can turn their individual contributions into shared music. With the music of many voices in mind, the apostle Paul wrote to the Colossians, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Col 3:16-17).

Without the leadership of Christ, we would be left looking for a leader worthy of our complete confidence. Apart from His direction, the church would be little more than a group of individuals stumbling through a piece of music no one really understands.

Yet, in the noise of our individual lives, Christ stands among us, ready to be our Great Conductor. The composition is His. The music is His. And the orchestra, conceived and bought at great price, is also His. Together we are rehearsing for a presentation far greater than any of us have yet imagined.

Father in heaven, in our quiet moments we hear the sounds of a great symphony in the distance. Forgive us for thinking that our one-person performance is all that counts. Please help us not to miss our part in the greater symphony—no matter how much or little You ask of us.

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25 Responses to “Symphony”

  1. SFDBWV says:

    Well said, Mart De Haan. I could not, nor will I try to add to your Symphony

  2. daisymarygoldr says:

    …and we ask and pray all of this in Jesus’ precious name!

  3. bubbles says:

    these thoughts were absolutely beautiful–just like a fine symphony composed by Haydn. Thank you, Mart.

    our God is so great and good
    Soli Deo Gloria.

  4. poohpity says:

    Oh my gosh, this should win a Pulitzer prize in the principles and practices of our faith. With a lump in my throat and the softness in my heart this just about says it all. Beautifully put, Mart. Thank you for reposting this.

  5. xrgarza says:

    Thank you Mart, I really enjoyed being inspired this morning. Since the only musical instrument that I can play quite well is the radio, I have never seen myself from this perspective before, thank you for the beautiful insight.

    PS: poohpity, I have enjoyed interacting with you, I am now a long haul truck driver and only home on the weekends, so I have responded to your wonderful response that you left at The Meaning of a Head and Body.

    God Bless

  6. wretch-like-me says:


  7. phpatato says:

    This is without a doubt a masterpiece. How can one add to this?

    Mart, you are truly gifted and a blessing to us all.

  8. afranz says:

    This SO blessed my heart this morning. Glad I decided to stop by. Standing Ovation from me. Thank you so much.

  9. bubbles says:

    thanks for recalling this beautiful piece, and for piquing the interest so Mart could put this up again.
    you and Mart were spot on!

  10. laney says:

    This is just beauitful.I want to make a copy of this.

  11. HEY REV says:

    You are just making it harder for yourselve to try and top this one. But I know the Holy Spirit will do it again through you.
    Had the experience through cancer surgery once and let me repeat what someone else said (and I quote) this is like:


    Thanks Mart and God’s continual Blessing’s on you.

    hey rev

  12. BobbiLee says:

    Wonderful! This is a keeper. . .

    Thank you for this piece Mart.

  13. pegramsdell says:

    Very well said. Thank you very much, Mart. :)

  14. Derrick Lau says:

    Thank You God for Mart.

  15. Loretta Beavis says:

    Simply beautiful!.

  16. sjd says:

    Well, I think it was totally heretical.


    I have noticed many of our songs we sing have the word mine, me and I in it. It is a good practice to try resinging them with the words ours, us, and we.

    What a beautiful mystery WE have all been “born” into!

  17. mary aaron says:


  18. BobbiLee says:

    Interesting sjd. . . wonder if we could take that a bit further in saying that maybe we could change all the mine’s, me’s, and I’s to Thou and Thine. Perhaps we could have even more of a symphony that way. Everyone praising God instead of focusing on ourselves. Just wondering.

  19. sjd says:

    That is a great point BobbiLee which I agree with. It is all about who God is and what He has done. Normally I do not want a lot of songs with I or me in it.

    In the context of this symphony discussion and in my study of the “bride of Christ” lately, I believe it is helpful to be reminded of the beauty of what God has done in preparing a unified people to be His body, His Church, His family, His Bride.

    This is the song that I had been thinking about that we sang a couple of weeks ago at our gathering that I asked if we could re-sing it changing the singular pronouns to the plural. But I do agree that if we continue to focus on Him, it is hard to stray! With this song, continue to praise Him, but remember jointly what He has done, and what we enjoy!

    Amazing grace
    How sweet the sound
    That saved a wretch (wretches) like me (us)
    I(we) once was (were) lost, but now I’m (we’re) found
    Was blind, but now I (we) see
    ‘Twas grace that taught my (our) heart (hearts) to fear
    And grace my (our) fears relieved
    How precious did that grace appear
    The hour I(we) first believed
    My(our) chains are gone
    I’ve(we’ve) been set free
    My(Our)God, my(our) Savior has ransomed me(us)
    And like a flood His mercy rains
    Unending love, Amazing grace

  20. poohpity says:

    The point being with the singular tense we can look at no one else in regard to sin only our own. So that would lead us to concentrate on our own response to the Cross while after that realization we unite with the plural tense which we have recognized that ALL have sinned and there are none any better or worse when comparing ourselves to Jesus. There is a time for the I’s, me’s and mine’s when looking at our sinful nature.

  21. cherielyn says:

    My dad loved all the old hymns and thought, deeply, of the message of the words. It always bothered him that not all of the stanzas would be sung in church because, he told me, the author of the song had a complete message in it, and by cutting out the singing of some of the stanzas, in order to save time, the song was not complete. I have read many of the old hymns and find that in most cases my dad’s thinking was right on.

    When a hymn writer wrote a song, he/she was writing it out of the depths of what was going on in their heart at the time they wrote it. If we own the words to the song we are singing, with all those I’s, me’s, etc., I believe we are personalizing it to our own life.

    In prayer, pouring out our hearts to God, we come to Him on a personal basis. The same should be in singing those grand old hymns. We are speaking (singing) to Him based on what is going on in the depths of our own hearts – not speaking (singing) for everyone else that may be present, which, IMHO is would be a good reason why we should not be using we, us, our, etc.

    I agree with you that the focus should be on Him, not on us.

    Just my thoughts.

  22. sjd says:

    It shouldn’t surprise me to see others not understanding what is so clear in my mind. The problem lies with my expression of my thoughts.

    It is hard when people do not hear things in the context of one’s life or previous words. Sorry for not being clear.

    I do not disagree with any of the points being made.

    I have a strong love for hymns and often wonder how you could only sing verses 1, 3 and 4, or whatever.

    If we take the focus off of God that is a problem, no argument here.

    One does come to Christ individually recognizing their own personal sin, and desperate need for Christ alone.

    I didn’t mean to speak any “heretical” message here.

    These days I do see a lack of understanding of “WE” with the INDIVIDUAL attitude(or at least behavior) of many within Church settings. If we would better understand the truth of Mart’s “Symphony”, there would be such a greater expression of Christ to those around us, both in the Church and outside.

    Many people come individually to worship, or individually to receive. I am sorry, but that is not the emphasis that I am seeing in the New Testament.

    Body, Bride, Family, Temple, Priesthood and others, seem to me to support the Symphony analogy. Until we understand the concepts Mart’s topic speaks of, we will not be able to be the full expression of Christ that God desires.

    The “we, our, us” words were simply meant to help us to make a joyful expression of who we are in Christ corporately. To focus us on the reality of what GOD DID to us, making us one.

    Thank you all for trying to be true to God’s Word. It appears that my individual words left too much room to cause questions. (But questions aren’t all bad.)

    I will try to remain silent on this particulr discussion now and enjoy the symphony. :)

  23. foreverblessed says:

    And if you want to enjoy a symphony by ear, go to a concerthall and listen to the 9th symphony of Beethoven.
    (Just happen to listen to a live performance on the radio on monday night, conducted by Jaap van Zweden, he is now conductor in Dallas, Texas).
    It is best to listen with many peaople around you.
    It has its ups and downs. Is very majestic, and at the end, the 4th part, the choir comes in, which is unusual for a symphony. And what do they sing:
    Alle Menschen werden Brueder
    (all men (and women) will be brothers)
    Isn’t that fitting?

  24. poohpity says:

    I believe the concept of the “Symphony” is all the different parts individuals or instruments coming together in one accord or purpose to bring glory to God not to the creation but to the creator. Yes it would bring people closer to God if we did not put such an emphasis on the individual members but more often than not we say look at us how holy we are rather than the righteousness that was imparted to us by the conductor. You are correct that many miss the concepts in many capacities because the eye is on the individual parts rather than the ONE who brings those parts to together to form something beautiful.

    It is easy to take something beautiful and pick apart the pieces until it turns into a mess.

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