by: Rev. Ed Schneider, M.P.Th.
Ps. 57:7-11 – 7 My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and give praise. 8 Awake, my glory! Awake, lute and harp! I will awaken the dawn. 9 I will praise You, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing to You among the nations. 10 For Your mercy reaches unto the heavens, And Your truth unto the clouds. 11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; Let Your glory be above all the earth.
EPH. 5:19-21 – 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God.
Bringing our Christian faith to life seems to be a difficult challenge for many people. For some people the journey towards Christian maturity is a road filled with dangers and stressful situations. Some people have asked, “Why is the Christian journey so hard for both individuals and the church?” It is a reasonable question to ask, “Why does it have to be so hard?” God has made it reasonably simple to know what He desires and what He expects. His purpose is plainly written down in scripture. So why does it seems so difficult a task to bring Christianity to life in real and sustainable ways? Here is one explanation why.
Imagine for a moment a musical composer who has been blessed with the gift to hear what others can not hear. Their gift often times springs forth in the middle of the night. They can wake with their imagination so vibrant and powerful that it compels this person to rise from the depths of their sleep and go to the piano to sketch out the beginnings of what the composer believes will be a masterpiece of musical expression.
After they have written the beginning of their musical idea out in some shortened form then the composer can take several months, even years in some cases, to get each note and chord, each melody and supporting harmonic line, to effectively and gloriously reflect what was originally birthed within the composer’s mind.
Think of the struggle to find the correct orchestration to decide upon; piano here, violins there; oboes or flutes or cello. Where should the composer place accents with timpani drums or maybe use the French horns. Should there be voices or special effects of some kind.
Literally the decisions are endless and the possible variations far too many to count. Yet the composer must at some point rest on what he or she believes will best reflect the original inspiration that awakened this gifted genius many days before.
Now…even though at this point the notes have been written the musical composition is still just on paper awaiting someone else to bring these notes to life.
Contemplate what kind of passion must have been committed to by the composer to write this piece of music. The late nights, the joyous expressions of what was possible, the longing to bring what was inside of them to the point of actually hearing what was once only in their mind. But again, we remember that the notes are at this juncture still just ink on the page. The composer must turn over the musical work to others to enable the compositional process to spring forth from idea into action. The inspiration that was so clear to the writer must be taken ownership by others to allow every melodic phrase to entrap the potential listener’s ear.
The same scenario is played daily in the life or death of any Christian Church. God’s vision is seen through the life and mission of Christ. Yet, that life and mission lives or dies based on whether others can be inspired…can be empowered….can be transformed into Holy Ghost driven, fire breathing, and unstoppable deliverers of the reality of Christ. Others must take on the role of producers to an awaiting audience.
Now going back to our composer example, I would remind all of you one cannot just walk up to an orchestra and say, “Here’s my latest and greatest…play it”. It doesn’t work that way in real life. The composer has to convince others that the composition is worth listening to and then publicly displaying. Then those folks have to represent the composer to others so that they sense a compelling desire to make the notes come to life in the form of a public presentation of the composer’s original intent.
Let’s assume that this rare miracle actually occurs. An orchestra has agreed to debut the piece and rehearsals begin. The composer is sitting in the rehearsal hall awaiting the conductor to call his musicians together to introduce the music to them. He begins by a simple “read through”. That’s where the musicians just play right through the piece without stopping so that they get a general overview of the work they are attempting to bring to life. Some parts go well while others are obvious places they will have to return to and correct the errors made. All the while the composer sits in the darkened hall listening to others struggling to bring to life what he had so passionately committed in writing down long before this moment. With each phrase that goes well it lifts his confidence that this group of gifted people will get it right and with each failing the composer worries whether they will ever get it right at all.
The rehearsals are finally over. The music and phrases have been gloriously prepared. Opening night has come and the debut of the masterpiece has been brilliant. The crowd has heard it. They have felt its passion. They have appreciated its apparent subtle movements and bold expressions. The final note, the final chord, the ending of the director’s baton has come and the crowd stands to its collective feet and shouts “bravo”! While the crowd begins to exit the hall the composer stands at the lobby doors attempting to hear comments. Then it happens. He hears someone humming the melody. He hears someone sharing a moment of the music with another. He hears another testifying that they can’t wait to tell someone about the experience.
Beloved, I will not insult your intelligence by pretending you are not aware of the foundations of this message. I know you do. I know that you understand our Bibles mean little if we can’t bring its genius to life. I know you understand that our faith means little if we can’t bring it to life. Even our relationship with Jesus means NOTHING, if we can’t bring it to life.
The question arises how do we bring our Bibles…our faith…our personal relationship with Jesus to life? There are many ways the individual can become more vibrant…more authentic…more giving…and more loving. However, it is within the “community of faith” where the strength of Christianity lies. It is the foundation of our collective faith…collective hope is a risen savior….collective love for those who the rest of the world turns away that binds us to Christ.
It is our collective efforts in bringing the message of a empowering God, a transformative savior, and a life giving Holy Spirit that will transcend reason. And that Beloved is where the proof of our Christian journey finds itself; beyond reason!
Just like the orchestra that brings the composers inspiration to life, so do we bring Christ to life. We are called by a gracious, powerful, and resurrecting God to bring our faith in a resurrected Savior to life. That can not be done in silence. That can not be done in isolation from other believers. That can not be done absent from fellowship, favor, and ferocious commitment to the cause of Christ.
Christianity does not exist within a particular philosophy. Christianity does not exist even on the pages of the Bible. It only exists as we….the believers….bring it to life in sincere and tangible means. The great Christian orchestra that has violins from the Baptist Church, and the horn section from the Reformed Church, and the wind instruments from the Apostolic tradition, even the lighting crew and ushers from the Methodists has to learn how to work together to bring Christianity to life.
Even within a local church the same holds true.
One person or group may lean toward this kind of music. Another group may want this color and another group may want something else entirely. There are always going to be differences in the way we do things. Always! That is the nature of the human condition. Oh Beloved, when Christians can learn to lean on God’s understanding and not their own miraculous things start to take place.
The fighting stops. The bickering and back-biting stops. The “Its not my way so it must be wrong” stops. It stops because we are focused on the things of God…the things that bring us together under the banner of a savior that conquered the grave. It is what we are called to do. It is what we are called to become. It is what we must be if Christianity is to reawaken itself from merely just a few notes on the page.
Beloved, with God’s help and for the glory of Christ…we can and must bring this Divine composition of grace to life. Amen.