Saturday, March 18, 2017

A Concert of Praise: God's Plan for His Church

When my husband told me a few weeks ago that he had arranged for us to attend a Baroque concert, I found myself anticipating the event.  The night arrived, clear and cold. Orion's commanding presence looked down from the sky as we found our way into the crowded auditorium.  After Thomas picked up the tickets, he met me at the back of the auditorium.  But that evening's experience exceeded my expectations and found me drawing parallels to a greater group of which we are both a part, God's institution for this age--the local church.

The concert was beautiful, breathtaking, better than most.  The musicians, mainly Italians, spoke through their instruments.  Virtuosity, interplay between the musicians, and a collectively choreographed and sonorous sound graced the ears of the audience.

It's the first concert I've attended where the audience received two encore numbers as a result of our hearty and continued standing ovation.

"I guess they feel like playing tonight," the woman beside me remarked.

But I said to Thomas, "I think it's because they're Europeans."  In Italy, concert goers attend the opera with musical scores in hand.  Pavarotti was booed offstage once because his voice cracked.  Italians are musical connoisseurs.  They taste the delicacies of classical and Baroque music and know what to expect at a concert.

Not only was their performance of Baroque masterpieces from Vivaldi to Corelli excellent, but also their presence as actors was apparent.  Their eyes spoke.  They communicated grace, joy, and pleasantry with each other as they worked together to portray contrapuntal melodies, echoing motives, and graceful accord.  Beauty frequently works into my eyes unwanted tears that form in the presence of such ecstasy.

As I left the concert, overcome by its unmistakable sense of collective artistry, I was inspired to consider the way in which the local church is to function.  The kind of relationships that ought to exist.  The ways in which individuals are to beautify Christ by exercising themselves to godliness.

The concertmaster, an unspeakably talented man whose first encore selection included a cadenza with notes so high they appeared to transcend the fingerboard, led with authority.  When the selections finished, the group members applauded one another--something I hadn't witnessed before.  Highly trained and talented musicians, they lacked the stiff formalism of many performers I have witnessed.  As any skilled instrumentalist would, each made his portion of the work appear easy.  Each one voiced the music and evidenced a relationship with his own instrument, as if it were an extension of himself.  Fluid readers who clearly understood the composer's original intent and singularly embraced their own particular roles in adding a unique hue to the colorful performance, each instrumentalist contributed wholly and meaningfully to every selection.

Frequently, in a passage characterized by rests, the musicians, catching the spirit of the music, smiled pleasantly at one another, looked away from their musical scores, and took time to enjoy the performance.

It's rare to be entertained by such qualified musicians who understand their instruments and the musical selections they perform, who visibly respond so positively to their leader, who applaud each others' accomplishments, and who have clearly mastered their craft.
Imagine the beauty of God's church if each member would see himself thus. Indeed, every member is part of a greater body, which has been designed for an eternal purpose.  Understanding this, would that each member would tap into his potential, letting the joy song of Jesus flow out from him, in the context of the local church, to grace the lives of those in the surrounding community!

Imagine the kind of experience the lost should enjoy if they were to behold such Christians, who, with joy and love, heartily follow the men of God whom God has placed over them.

Imagine the impact upon our surrounding communities believers such as these would be, who interpret Christ's Gospel so skillfully, who revel in the pleasant songs of Zion they are creating as they live as masters of their craft--unafraid of "what ifs," for they have spent hours developing their lives with a Master Who has shaped them, formed them, and breathed life into them.

And because of their ability developed by the Master's hands, their relational interplay within the church itself is harmonically pleasant.  With jealousy never given even a passing thought, they applaud the accomplishments of others.  With strife and contention buried under a pile of rubble, they joy in the unique giftings of one another.  With words of strife never spoken from their lips, they live with harmonious grace and kindness, breathing life into each relationship and clearly portraying the original intent of the Composer's score--the actual meaning of the Word of God.

Let us be of that number in God's church who powerfully interpret the everlasting text of Scripture in our lives as we live together in unity and exquisite oneness, experiencing the power of God's Spirit as a result!