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 (ROMANS 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 CORINTHIANS 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 CORINTHIANS 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” (ROMANS 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” (ECCLESIASTES 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:
- The Ten Commandments of the Mosaic Covenant combined to define the boundaries of moral behavior (EXODUS 20:1-17).
- The 9 character traits of the New Covenant blend to show what a Spirit-filled follower of Christ looks like (GALATIANS 5:22-23).
- The 7 attitudes taught by Christ merge to describe the making of a peacemaker (MATTHEW 5:1-10).
- The 7 progressive expressions of due diligence show that faith works through and in harmony with the essentials of spiritual growth (2 PETER 1:5-7).
- The 7 marks of spirituality help us recognize the wisdom that comes from God with balance and depth (JAMES 3:17).
- 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 (1 CORINTHIANS 13).
- 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 (EPHESIANS 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 CORINTHIANS 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” (COLOSSIANS 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.