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SPIRITUAL GIFTS ARE LIKE AN ORCHESTRA


When I was in the 5th grade, our entire 5th grade class at Anderson Elementary School was required to take band. At a certain hour of each day we would gather in the band room and attempt to play our instruments. We didn’t really have a choice which instruments we played. The instructor simply assigned us instruments based on what the school had available and what he thought each kid was most suited for. I was assigned the saxophone. And that year, the music instructor had one goal, to help us turn squeaks into notes. I honestly don’t know how he survived. We would go home with sheet music to practice, and each day we gathered to play. But when the teacher raised his baton and motioned for us to begin it sounded like a car accident. We played different tempos. We played at different volumes. We didn’t watch the conductor. And we didn’t listen to each other. And yet in spite of how poorly played, it was a new experience and so each one of us got a certain degree of pleasure out of hearing ourselves play. Only I didn’t want to hear the people around me play. I just wanted to hear myself play. And, I thought I was really good. And I thought my instrument was cooler than everyone else’s. So naturally I thought the people around me should hear me play to. And so, my objective was to play louder than everyone else. And this was the mindset of everyone in the room. It was a room full of soloists. And it was terrible.


Well, this seems to be what was going on in the Corinthian Church. They all had their own instruments, but they weren’t following the conductor, they weren’t playing together, each one thought his instrument was the coolest and that everyone else should hear him, or that everyone should play the same instrument if they were true members of the orchestra. And it was a room full of soloists and nothing short of a train wreck. And obviously I’m referring to their use of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.


Abide in Christ and obey His teachings on loving one another and ministering to one another and reaching out to the world with the Gospel, and do so in the power of the Holy Spirit and your spiritual gifts will become self-apparent. But the point is, the Holy Spirit expresses Himself through each one of us uniquely for the benefit of the whole.


And it is like being in an orchestra. When I was in the 8th grade, I was a member of the concert band at Lincoln Middle School. And that year we performed Beethoven’s 1812 Overture for our end-of-the-year concert. Because of the length of the piece it was the only thing we played that night. We had prepared all year to perform this piece. When the house lights went down and the stage lights turned on and the curtain went up, there we sat… all 100 plus members of our orchestra looking out toward an audience packed with proud moms and dads, brothers and sisters, grandmas and grandpas. And when the conductor, Mr. Bachley, raised his baton, we all put our instruments in ready position. I was on the saxophone. And when he gave that first down stroke of his baton, we didn’t all start to play our own different pieces for our own personal enjoyment. We played the 1812 Overture, and we played it together, and we played it for the enjoyment of the audience in front of us. And every instrument was needed, from the flutes that played their trills to bring intensity and suspense, to the deep baritones that boomed out notes reminiscent of bombs on a battle field. And even the quiet portions of the piece were moving as nothing could be heard except for the sound of distant chimes. And without that sound, that one little instrument, something significant would have been lost in the piece. Every instrument was needed. And as we played, each instrument followed with precision the movements of the conductor. Every note of our instruments and change in our volume matched the motions and varying levels of intensity of the conductor. And it was awesome. And when the final notes were played we put down our instruments and we rose to take a bow, the audience leapt to their feet and gave a roaring ovation that lasted ten minutes long and brought each one of us to tears because we knew how hard we worked. And now it was pay day, and at that moment it was clear that it was a job well done.


We are in an orchestra, you and I together. That’s verses 7-11. And each one of us has an instrument that’s been given to us. We don’t play our own piece, separately from one another for our own personal enjoyment. We play together. And we follow the lead of our conductor… the Holy Spirit. That’s verses 4-6. And as we play our instruments, playing together and following the lead, every expression, every movement of our conductor, then we make beautiful music that brings pleasure to our audience before us, an audience of one, the Lord Jesus Christ.


(From a sermon by Kirk Romberg, "Playing in God’s Orchestra," 10/22/2009)

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