We recently had the privilege of attending a wonderful concert by the Glacier Symphony. Some friends who had planned to attend got sick and were gracious to give us their tickets. Having played in band and orchestra from 5th grade through college, I really appreciate hearing a good group perform, as does my wife. What was a special treat was the guest soloist, a French horn player Jonas VanDyke who was amazing. French horn is the instrument I have played since I was 10 years old, including lots of solo work during high school, so I understood fully what a fantastic performance it was by Jonas, who is only 29 but has played with many of the major symphonies in the United States and now with the Beijing Orchestra in China. He went to school nearby at Flathead High School in Kalispell, so that made it even more special.
When I listen to a band or orchestra I am always reminded of how God gives each of us as believers a special gift (instrument, if you will) to use for Him and to participate in His body, the church (the orchestra) in helping to build it up and glorify Him (through beautiful music). In the Apostle Paul’s discussion of spiritual gifts in I Corinthians, he wrote: “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. And there are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (I Cor. 12:4-7). Every instrument in the orchestra, from the piccolo to the tuba, from the violin to the bass violin, is needed to produce beautiful renditions of a piece of music as intended by the composer. Each member of the orchestra must put in a lot of time on his/her own to master their instrument and then must practice with the rest of the members together to learn when to come in, and how loud to play each time they do. The instruments must be kept in good working order, and then, in order to make music pleasing to the ear they must be tuned to one another. Whether you play for the Glacier Symphony from the Flathead Valley in Montana, or the Beijing Orchestra in China, you tune your instrument to the same standard note! Before the conductor steps on the podium and lifts his baton, the orchestra warms up and then tunes up to the first violinist. The warm up and tuning time can sound a bit cacophonous, but it is all necessary if the orchestra is going to make beautiful music together.
Once the conductor steps up on the podium, all instruments are quiet, and all eyes are focused upon him, everyone with the same piece of music before them, and their instruments tuned and ready. As the conductor raises his baton (or hands), each member of the orchestra is alert and ready to play his/her part, at the right time, with the right dynamics, hitting the right notes and pitches. The conductor will guide the timing and indicate when sections are to come in and if more or less volume is needed. When all these things come together, it makes for beautiful music, pleasing to the ear. But, if everyone were to do their own thing in their own time, playing whatever notes they wished, at whatever volume they wanted, what a terrible noise they could make! If every instrument is performing as intended by the composer and conductor, then they will add to the desired musical effect, even though you can’t always pick out what each separate instrument is adding to the overall sound. But, should even one instrument play a wrong note, or play at the wrong time, it would really stand out, especially to the conductor! There may be occasions where one instrument or one section has a solo part, with the rest of the orchestra adding the backup or accompaniment, but most of the time, everyone is just playing together to achieve the desired results.
Every believer is a member of God’s Divine Orchestra called the “Church,” and each has an instrument (spiritual gift) to play. We may or may not ever have a solo part where we are the focus of attention, but we always have an important role to play. And we need to practice (developing our spiritual gift), to be familiar with the music (God’s Word), to be in tune with the other instruments (walking in harmony with our fellow believers) and then to carefully follow the Conductor (Christ living in us through the Holy Spirit). When we do that, we can make some beautiful music together which will delight the Conductor and be pleasing to those who enjoy orchestral music. Just as not everyone appreciates band or orchestra music, not everyone appreciates the Body of Christ, the Church. Jesus said, “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (Jn. 15:18,19). Satan, remember, is the “ruler of this world” (Jn. 12:31), and he hates God and opposes Him in every way he can. So, all who represent Christ, will also face his hatred and persecution.
But just because not everyone enjoys or appreciates the music of an orchestra doesn’t mean they quit playing and performing! Similarly, just because not everyone appreciates the Body of Christ doesn’t mean we quit “making beautiful music together.” We’re playing, remember, for our Divine Conductor, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. So, whatever instrument you play, whatever your task in the Body of Christ, “Whatever you do, do your work (use your gift–play your instrument) heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men; knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve” (Col. 3:23,24).
Well, I feel an urge to get my French horn out and practice!
Fellow orchestra member, Pastor Dave