I started out playing French horn as a fifth-grader in our elementary school beginner band. One reason that I picked out the French horn was that my mom had encouraged me to choose something a little more unusual than clarinet or flute. The problem was that a French horn is a lot bigger than a clarinet or flute. Every day, I had to climb up and down the five flights of railroad-tie steps that my dad had built between our house and the school bus stop at the bottom of our rural, wooded hillside. I was small for my age anyway, and trying to lug this heavy French horn home to practice lasted only a few days. Nonetheless, even though I didn't bring my instrument home to practice every day, I loved band and stuck with French horn throughout the remainder of my school band days.
In addition to its size, another downside to the French horn was the fact (in my youthful opinion) that it can have a pretty boring part to play in the band. A French horn can be the star in a symphony orchestra, but … not so much in a small school band. It seemed as though I rarely got the melody, but usually had to play the "oom-pah, oom-pah" accompanying part. And at that, I only got to play the "pah" because someone else got to play the "oom!"
At the time, I didn't fully appreciate the value of the rich, underlying support which the accompanying parts give to the solo instruments in a band or orchestra, but my adult perspective now allows me to see the importance of these unsung heroes of the music world. How weak and thin a lush orchestral piece would sound if the soloist did not have the strong undergirding of the full orchestra.
In 1 Corinthians 12:12-31, Paul uses the human body to emphasize this principle of the value of lesser members in the body of Christ. He even says that "the parts that we think are less honourable we treat with special honour" (1 Corinthians 12:23a NIV), because all members have an important part to play — through their various gifts — in the work of the church.
So, whether we play a solo part or an accompanying part, whether we are a strong body part or a weak body part, we can be grateful for what we can contribute to the work of Christ's kingdom in our world.
1 Corinthians 12:18-20 – But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. (NIV)
Prayer: Lord, show us how we can best serve You, both as instruments of praise and also as working members of the body of Christ. May we be content in the parts that we have to play in Your work in our world today. Amen.
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