Imagine this scenario with me:
A world renown choir is performing at one of the largest theaters in the world. Thousands upon thousands will be attending this concert. Word is spreading through communities all over the world about the grandeur of this choir and the upcoming show.
This performance will go down in history.
The night of the performance comes and thousands of eyes and ears are locked on the choir members. The choral professionals, glowing with confidence and boldness, can hardly wait to show the world what they’ve been working on. The director steps out in front of the choir and holds up his hands to begin the repertoire. Right at the very last second, each choir member slightly turns away from the director and looks off to a different part of the room. One by one, each member starts singing their own song, in their own tune, and in their own timing. Confidently. Proudly. And loudly.
Faces in the crowd slowly turn from delight to disgust. At this point, people are grabbing their ears and booing the choir off the stage. The random collaboration of pitches, rhythms and tempos sound more like a herd of dying cows than the graceful choir everyone expected. What was designed to be a glorious symphony quickly turned into a tone-deaf rhapsody simply because their eyes came off of the conductor and they neglected the call to unity.
A Tone- Deaf People
Fictitious as this story may be, this lesson remains true: a people who fail to be unified will leave those watching feeling utterly dissatisfied. And the same is true when it comes to a watching world with eyes locked on the global division of the body of Christ.
Even though disunity is a world-wide issue, the root of the problem starts with each of us individually. The bitter root of division begins to grow when we neglect two very essential disciplines. When we forsake these two things, it’s not only detrimental to our own spiritual health but also to the watching world who is trying to see if we really do represent the God we claim to follow. These disciplines are looking and listening–looking to the Master Conductor and listening to the tune He’s playing.
As we grow complacent in our walks with Christ, we can easily forget to tune our hearts with His heart, His thoughts and His ways. The less we listen and look to Him, the more confident we become in our own thoughts, ways, and perspectives. Before long, we become so set in our own “right” way, that it becomes the ONLY way. And if the majority of believers fall into this habit of neglecting to listen and look, proceeding to walk in our “own” way, we will collectively sound more like those tone-deaf performers than a Spirit-led people.
A Call to Action
I love the way the importance of listening and looking are highlighted in Proverbs 2: 1-5, 9. It says,
“My child, listen to what I say, and treasure my commands. Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures. Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord, and you will gain knowledge of God… Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair, and you will find the right way to go.” (emphasis mine)
Listen, tune, ask, search, seek– these are all the actions this verse calls us to take. It’s a plea to listen and tune our hearts to the ultimate Voice of wisdom and insight. It’s a call to ask God what His thoughts are, search for His wisdom and seek His direction in all things. This verse ultimately calls us to listen and to look.
According to these verses, four things happen when we listen and look. We will:
- Understand what it means to fear God
- Grow in knowledge of who He is and what His heart is like
- Understand what is right, just and fair (in our thoughts, actions, and words)
- Discover the right way to go– His right way.
It Starts With You and Me
Ideally, it would be amazing if the Church as a whole obeyed this call to listen and look all at once. Can you imagine the strength of our unity? Nations of people tuning our hearts to the same Voice, aligning our words, actions and thoughts with the same Heart, and living out our lives with the same purpose we’ve been assigned. The thought of that just gets me all pumped! But know this: it starts with you. It starts with me. It starts on our knees– with our ears heightened to His voice and our eyes fixed on what He’s doing.
And one by one, group by group, nation by nation we’ll begin to tune our ears to the voice of God and sing His song again–the song of redemption, hope and life that draws all men to come, hear and believe. It begins with us tuning our individual voices to His rhythm, locking our eyes on Him, watching what He does, and then following His lead.
What a glorious symphony it will one day be–the song of global-church unity.