Friday, February 7, 2014
God wants to enjoy community, so He gives us gifts for unity
Blending sounds: Woodwind section with brass behind in the BBC Symphony Orchestra of Wales
Eph 4:12-13 “…So that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith… and become mature…”
MUCH AS I like the football team and coaching analogy of gifts and body – players in different positions, executing different plays, passing to each other (hopefully!) – the picture of the orchestra remains for me the most powerful.
I have only played in an orchestra at school. That was enough to teach me that playing the right notes is just the beginning of what is required. Everyone carries a different instrument, and everyone needs to turn up. But that’s not enough. The sought-after, memorable, performance depends mainly on one thing: how together the ensemble is. That’s why the conductor has such a vital role, although he or she doesn’t play anything.
All those violins have the precision of one. Other sections contribute their own sounds: woodwind from tiny piccolos and reedy oboes to the flatulent double bassoon, and different again in the brass section with the strident trumpet notes, mellow French horns and impatient trombones. Let’s say that the melody passes from one section to another, as it commonly does in a classical/romantic symphony. The same notes may be repeated, but with very different timbre and effect. So our personal gifts are like the sound of the instrument we carry and the musical phrases are like the situational gifts, the more powerful for the different ways in which they come. The togetherness and the blending are what brings the presence of the composer.
This is what God wants from us – for us to make ‘beautiful music’ together for Him. That’s why He has given us the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Like the musicians’ instruments, they are diverse, but every one is needed, and out of this apparent diversity comes a special unity.
How does it work in a church where the gifts are not recognised or encouraged? The best that can be hoped for is a kind of religious uniformity. People come together and do the same thing in the same way, going through their familiar service (they would call it ‘their’ service!), so there is a kind of community. On a certain level.
This, however, is not what God seeks – the “one in heart and mind” bonding that comes by people working together, creating together, harmonising together, fighting for their cause together – some adversity helps – and celebrating God together. What enables us to do those things? It is the interactions. It is specifically the way these different gifts mesh together. It is the way that the organisational gifts seek out and release the situational and the personal. It is the way gifts enable us to rest in God’s design rather than striving to find our own solutions.
Whether you call it a team, a concert or a craftsman’s perfect fit, community is God’s way and God’s way is good. “God saw all that He had made, and it was very good.” Genesis 1:31