the weblog of Alan Knox

Singing a song of unity

Posted by on Dec 29, 2007 in church history, unity | Comments Off

As I’ve mentioned previously (here and here), during the last few months I’ve been studying the writings of Ignatius of Antioch. While I disagree with Ignatius in some points, there are many other areas where we are in agreement. For example, Ignatius often emphasizes unity among believers. For example, consider this passage:

In your unanimity and harmonious love, Jesus Christ is sung. You must join this chorus, every one of you, so that by being harmonious in unanimity and taking your pitch from God you may sing in unison with one voice through Jesus Christ to the Father, in order that he may both hear you and, on the basis of what you do well, acknowledge that you are members of his Son. It is, therefore, advantageous for you to be in perfect unity, in order that you may always have a share in God. (Ign. Eph. 4:1b-2)

I love the imagery of the church singing together to God the Father through Jesus Christ. The Greek word translated “harmonious” above is the word from which we get the English word “symphony”. A conductor leading an orchestra portrays the beautiful picture of how God leads his children. We may be different (play different instruments) and God may use us in different ways (play different parts), but when we are following his lead, we will find ourselves walking in unity with one another and with God.

When something goes awry – when someone strikes a wrong note – when their is discord – that’s a clear indication that we are not following our conductor. Our goal should not be to get people back on the same page with us, but to point ourselves and others back to the conductor – back to God – and allow him to bring us back into his will and back into unity.

My goal – your goal – each of our goal – is to follow our conductor, using the instruments that he has provided, playing the score as he has arranged it. We may not understand how it all fits together, but when we are playing together as God arranges the music, we will find ourselves in symphonic unity – and the world will recognize the beautiful results. By the way, the world can also recognize the results when we are not following our conductor.

I don’t expect you to play the same instrument as me. I do not expect you to play the same piece of music as me. However, as your brother in Christ, I do expect you to follow the same conductor that I’m following.