Beautiful Harmony: the Church


A choir director has the power to unite a diverse group of people to a common goal and shared purpose.  I experienced this a few weeks ago when I attended the spring concert of my high school choir.

At the end of the concert, the beloved director of twenty years invited all the alumni in the audience to come and join the choir in singing the traditional closing song.  Since it’s been more than a decade since I graduated, I didn’t remember this tradition, but I went up to join in anyway assuming we would be given music.

But there wasn’t any sheet music. From reading the program, I knew the title of the song.  I didn’t know any more than that when the accompanist started playing.

We all watched for the director’s cue and started singing. Or pretended to, in my case, since I didn’t know the words or the melody.  But as I started reading the director’s lips and listening to those around me who did know the song, I was able to cautiously join in. Keeping my attention on the director, I found I could sing with my fellow alumni (who apparently have better memories than I do!). By listening to the harmonies around me, I picked out my part to sing.

Because we all focused on our director, followed his direction, and listened to those around us, a group of musicians who didn’t know each other sang together. It was beautiful.

As I experienced this, I realized it reflected the beauty of another group: the church. There is beauty in people joining together as the body of Christ from all walks of life, focusing on their leader Jesus Christ, and uniting for a common purpose of serving Him.

Any good musician will tell you that it is paramount for every choir member to watch the director if the group is to sing well.  Similarly, when each member of the church keeps his attention on Jesus, everyone moves in the same direction.

But why do we follow Jesus?  I followed my choir director’s cues at the concert because I knew him personally and trusted him.  Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me” (John 10:14).  We follow Jesus because we have a personal relationship with Him.  He laid down His life so that we could live.  He is the risen Savior worthy of our obedience, love, and worship and He invites us into His family.  To function as a healthy church, we must “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:2). The church sings best not by watching each other or worrying about those who might be watching them, but by focusing on Christ.

That doesn’t mean we don’t pay attention to one another. One person is not a choir, or a church. We all have unique gifts and skills, personalities and experiences, perspectives and insights that blend into a beautiful harmony.  Listening to and caring for those around us, we form a picture that reflects the beauty of the One we’re following.  1 Corinthians 12 says, “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit…But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (12:4,7).

We must value the variety of those around us (like I appreciated the strong bass singing somewhere behind me!) and help each through the joys and struggles of life (like the altos nearby who enabled me find my place in the song).  The fellowship and accountability of the being part of the church helps to live in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ (Philippians 1:27). As we work with one another, the rich harmonies of faith blend into a dynamic and rich church body.

While it takes many members to make a choir, one person can try to disrupt a choir.  If one member decided not to follow the director and sing whatever she wanted, the whole choir would be upset and marked by that selfishness or lack of focus.  Similarly, one person can share false teaching or quarrel with others and so begin to destroy the fellowship and focus of the church.  That is why Paul urged the church at Corinth “in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought” (1 Corinthians 1:10). In order to sing beautifully, a choir must be united.  In order to glorify God, a church must put aside personal pride to benefit of the church.

There is beauty in a church that has a united goal of proclaiming “the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). Each congregation is made up of individuals who are unique expressions of the image of God.  The church around the world is made up of diverse congregations and people who share a common goal, who work together to glorify their Head.

And so, together the church sings.  We fix our eyes on Jesus and sing the beautiful harmony of the traditional closing song:

Christ, we do all adore Thee,

and we do praise Thee forever.

Christ, we do all adore Thee,

and we do praise Thee forever.

For on the holy cross

Thou hast the world from sin redeemed.

Christ, we do all adore Thee,

and we do praise Thee forever.

Christ, we do all adore Thee.1


1 Words by Theodore Baker, https://hymnary.org/text/christ_we_do_all_adore_thee