Have you ever experienced the performance of a world-class symphony? I don't mean listening to music through tiny white earbuds, or even your fancy home theater system. That would be listening to the music. I'm talking about experiencing it!
There is a major difference between listening to a recording of Mozart and experiencing it live at the symphony hall. The notes may be the same, but our awareness of the conductor and each of the members of the orchestra, and the distinct movements and sounds of various instruments is completely lost when we only hear a recording of the sounds. There is something about seeing the music created before our eyes that results in a sense of wonder and exhilaration. Rather than thinking of the music as a technically satisfying product, we experience it as a profoundly incredible work of art.
I took my wife to the Pacific Symphony for a Christmas concert last year. Famous songs I had heard hundreds of times before came to life as I watched the 50-piece orchestra create the melodic sounds of Silent Night and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. It was amazing to pan across the stage and see each of these unique and gifted musicians, playing individual notes on their instruments that resulted in this incredible symphony of sounds that filled the concert hall.
When they did Sleigh Ride and they got to the second verse where you hear the “Giddy up, giddy up, giddy up let’s go. Let’s look at the show. We’re riding in a wonderland of snow.” I noticed the percussionist using two wooden blocks to make the clop, clop sound of horses running that you hear in the background of the song. I wouldn’t have even noticed this guy hidden way in the back with his wooden blocks in hand, except that he was featured on the giant video screen in the hall as the camera zoomed in on him making his clop, clop sound. I had never realized how important this little additional sound in the background was to enhancing the rich texture of the melody and the life-like experience of the song.
I thought about this as I was reading Paul’s description of different parts of the body this week. The percussionist was not in a prominent position. He didn’t play the violin in the 1st chair right next to the conductor. He was tucked in the back, relegated to slapping two wood blocks together. Yet without him adding his unique sound to the mix, the music would have been incomplete.
Similarly, understanding how spiritual gifts work melodically in a church body takes more than just listening to the harmony the members make when tuned in to their gifts. It takes seeing each member of the church as an essential individual instrument, vital to the whole body. And it takes an appreciation for the work of the Great Conductor, the Holy Spirit - who gifts and guides each individual and the body according to His will and according to His purpose: the building up of the body of Christ.