Sometimes our orchestra would split into ensembles. In these smaller groups, we’d sit down with our sheet music, then all start at the same speed, or tempo. But sometimes, it didn’t stay that way for long. Soon the cello had sped up, the violin had slowed down, the bass was too loud, and the viola was ready to quit from sheer exasperation. The song did not sound like music.
So, how did we get the song to sound…like a song? We had to learn to listen to each other. Our director taught us to know our sheet music so well that we could look up at each other while playing. She trained us to tune our ears to the music. When we focused on listening to the instruments around us, our fingers and arms would naturally adjust. When we started to feel like we were off, we’d make eye contact, and pretty soon we’d be playing together again.
Of course, this didn’t always work. After all, we were still learning! Sometimes we’d get lost, and we’d have to stop, laugh it off, and talk about what went wrong. After listening to one another’s explanations so we could understand how all our parts fit together, we’d try again.
This reminds me of living as a Christian…with other Christians. Throughout the Bible, God calls us to listen to each other. Because, even if we know Bible verses like the back of our hand, if we aren’t open to hearing and learning from others’ perspectives, and if we aren’t sensitive to each other’s needs, how can we obey God’s second-greatest command: to love each other (Matthew 22:36-40)? But we can also fall to the opposite extreme. We might be listening to others, but if we aren’t spending time in God’s Word for ourselves, learning what He says and wrestling with the sections that don’t come easily to us, how can we play the songs of God together? It would be like trying to play in an ensemble without ever learning the sheet music.
Thankfully, God hasn’t left us to figure things out alone. After Jesus died, rose again, and ascended into heaven, the Holy Spirit came to live inside us, His followers. The Holy Spirit helps us understand the Bible and empowers us to care about others and humbly listen to their thoughts, sensibilities, and needs. Instead of trying to follow God in our own strength and wisdom, God invites us to lean on Him and support each other. Together, we can make beautiful music. • Hannah Howe
• Can you think of a time when listening to others helped you understand God’s Word and/or follow His good ways? What happened?
Come and listen, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what he did for me. Psalm 66:16 (NLT)