The audience sat in silent expectation. On stage were more than a hundred musicians. At precisely the right time, the conductor was greeted with rousing applause as he stepped briskly on stage and took his place before the orchestra. All the musicians poised, ready to begin. With a burst of energy the first note resounded throughout the chamber. But the look of horror on the conductor’s face revealed that something was terribly wrong.
Discordant sounds echoed throughout the auditorium. The conductor looked in dismay at a tuba player bouncing up and down as he played “When the Saints Come Marching Home.” To the conductor’s right, a cello player swayed with his eyes closed as he played “In the Sweet By and By.” To the conductor’s left, the clarinet player, deciding to try out the piano, was pecking out “Hot Cross Buns.” The bassoon player had decided he preferred the kettle drums and was vainly beating out “The Little Drummer Boy” with a pa-rum pa-rum rum rum. Right in front of the conductor, several violinists were playing a lively version of “Yankee Doodle,” while in the back a trumpet player was somberly playing “Taps.” Shouting from the left drew the conductor’s attention to two piccolo players loudly arguing which one of them should play the harp.
The word symphony is used to describe an orchestra for a reason. Symphony means “harmony of sounds.” In our illustration there was everything but harmony of sound!
The Church is to be like a symphony orchestra, with all the symphony included. In the new edition of Bible Helps (entitled “The Spiritual Gifts in the Church Age”, No. 462), Brother Paul Shirk describes the spiritual gifts that God, through the Holy Spirit, has given to every believer. God intends for believers to work together, blending their various gifts to more effectively accomplish the mission of the Church today.
Yet sometimes the Church can become like the Non-Symphony Orchestra. Some members can be playing their own tune, oblivious to what others are doing. Some may decide that their job is boring, and instead try to play someone else’s instrument. Some people with the same gifts many band together to do it their way, ignoring the valuable input of others. One person may decide their method is the only right way. And some may resort to arguing who should do a job when neither of them is gifted to do it.
Brother Paul’s careful analysis of the spiritual gifts and the strengths and weaknesses of each helps us to see how God has designed them to all work together to produce a beautiful symphony unto the Lord. As the article concludes: “In order for spiritual gifts to work for good—they need to work for good together!”