“The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly.”
Scripture & Devotion: Scriptural focus: Colossians 3:14 (ESV)
And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
Cacophony & Harmony
My brother used a word in a recent sermon that I have not heard in a long time. Here’s what he said: “God is working even when you’re silent. Don’t contribute needless noise to the cacophony.” (John Kitterman)
Cacophony. It means “a harsh, discordant mixture of sounds.” The word itself even sounds harsh.
It describes everything I feel right now about social media, news reporting, and even sometimes in-person conversations. It can be overwhelming. And makes me want to plug my ears. Well, ear. 😊
Contrast this with harmony. Harmony is defined as “the combination of simultaneously sounded musical notes to produce chords and chord progressions having a pleasing effect.”
Harmony produces chords that are pleasing – cacophony produces dissonance and discord.
Perhaps if the apostle Paul had been a musician, he would have used a musical analogy to describe Christians living as Jesus followers in the world. (instead of talking about body parts) Just maybe …
Place yourself on a hard metal chair in a school gym - waiting for a school band concert. The students decked out in their concert clothing (and why are concert clothes so boring, anyway?) They sit in their places with their instruments. What comes next??
Cacophony - as each individual warms up their instrument, playing whatever it is they want to play. It seems to go on for hours.
Then finally …. quiet.
And one oboe (or clarinet) plays one lone note. Each group of instruments then plays that note – and each instrumentalist listens to their own tone & pitch and tries to match what they hear. (Shout out to all the band and orchestra parents reading this. It’s often painful!) When the pitch doesn’t match, you can hear the dissonance – the sound waves clashing against each other. When the waves come together, the sound is one beautiful note. It takes a good ear and lots of practice to learn how to hear and play in tune.
Harmony can only come AFTER the tuning. Each instrument plays its own part, not only playing notes at the proper time, but playing in tune, producing something incredibly pleasing to the ear.
Cacophony describes so much of our world today. Harsh, strident words clamoring for our attention. Division over every imaginable subject and instantaneous access to any opinion we might entertain. It brings weariness, fatigue, even depression and a desire to escape the sounds.
How do we move from cacophony to harmony?
We tune up. We tune up to Jesus. We listen for what He is playing and we tune to Him. What is the one “note” that Jesus plays? I want to suggest that it is love. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” “Everyone will know by this that you are my disciples—if you have love for one another.” “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind … Love your neighbor as yourself.” We tune ourselves to Love.
The tuning is not the concert. We go on to play music - in community. In a band, even as you play a part, you have to constantly listen to your pitch to stay in tune. It is the same in life. We tune to Jesus, and then play our part, bringing a beautiful, harmonious joy where there has been a cacophony. But each day, as we play, we must listen to our pitch. Am I tuning to Jesus even as I am playing my part?
Warm up. Tune up. Play your part. Don’t contribute needless noise to the cacophony.
Help me tune into you, Jesus, and then play the part that you have for me.