Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Current Study: First Peter
Today’s Topic: Play In Harmony (part 2)
Scripture Reading: 1 Peter 3:8 Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.
After talking to a few people about yesterday’s devotional, I came to discover that it had a lot more meaning to me than to anyone else. I find that happens a lot, because I still have this disconnect between what my mind is thinking and what my words are saying. In my mind, it was very clear how the analogy of a band connected to the reality of the church. For me, there were multiple points of application to our lives throughout the devotional, especially in regards to our relationships within the body of Christ. Yet after reading the whole devotional, and coming to the last line, one person commented, “I wondered when this would make a point.” I guess I need to try again.
In First Peter 3:8, Peter is bringing to a conclusion his excellent teaching on the subject of submission. He has written to citizens and leaders, employees and employers, wives and husbands, and now wraps it all up by addressing everyone in the church. His command for us from the Holy Spirit is to live in harmony with one another within the church. That will only be the reality if the people of the church are living in submission to Christ and to one another.
Harmony requires community. Community requires connection. Connection requires humility. Humility breeds sympathy, compassion, and love, which together strengthen connections, growing greater community, and producing richer harmony.
One of the most important points made yesterday (maybe it was too subtle) was the emphasis on encouragement. In the body of Christ, we must recognize that gifts, abilities, and skill don’t equate to worth. Every person is needed. Every person is valuable. Some instruments of God are more noticeable than others, but none is more worthy than any other. When one part of the body does something commendable under the power of the Holy Spirit, the rest of the body rejoices for two reasons: they played a supporting role, and, the vision and goals of the whole are being realized. As a result, those who get recognition are honored and encouraged with sincerity because there is no jealousy. Individual goals are surrendered for the sake of the community, so individual recognition is not sought, but it is given by the community as an encouragement to all.
Harmony is destroyed and discord happens when individuals begin to demand recognition. This is deadly to church community. People who stand up to be noticed divert attention from the Director. People who stop playing because they aren’t getting noticed cause the rest of the community to suffer a loss in productivity. People who criticize the sounds made by other community members are themselves making ugly sounds. If there is to be true harmony, then there must be humility, for only humility can unite diversity.
Harmony is the result of diversity united by a common objective. The Director has arranged the instruments exactly the way he knows their sounds will complement one another and produce the best possible result. He has handed out the music with unique notes on each sheet specifically written to produce the best possible sound out of each instrument and blend in perfect harmony with each of the other instruments. He stands at the front of the band – the church – and raises His hands, and all attention is drawn to Him. Not one member is looking at the crowd any longer. No one is playing for the audience any more. Everyone is intent on playing exactly what the director has assigned them to play. Everyone has one purpose – fulfill the goal of the Director by playing their best.
My friends, we are Christ’s band of brothers and sisters. We are the church. We are a connected community. We have each been uniquely assigned a gift by the Holy Spirit to be used completely and continually in harmony with one another. We accomplish harmony by being sympathetic, compassionate, humble, and loving. We have surrendered our personal goals and any need for individual recognition so that the objectives of the Director can be accomplished. And when the Director chooses to point at someone, we will all cheer for them, just as we hope they will cheer for us when the Director points our way. Not because we want the recognition, but because we want people to know what a great Director we have. Who else could have brought out the best in us? The cheers are really for Him.