Harmony is concord or agreement. Another word for harmony is “peace” – and making peace is often very hard work. For example, it took a few hundred diplomats to work out a peace agreement in May 1983 to end the conflict between Israel and Lebanon that began in 1982. Then it took thousands of soldiers to enforce and maintain the peace. The same principle is true for believers: achieving harmony is hard, but being a peacekeeper once a truce is declared is even harder. It’s a spiritual art.
The testimony of a community of believers often hangs on the ability of its members to live in harmony and to keep the peace once it is made. Paul appeals to leaders and followers alike to be sensitive to the Spirit’s directives and to become ambassadors for unity.
The Spirit’s most difficult work in the church is to promote harmony among its members. The art of “keep(ing) the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace,” in Ephesians 4:3, requires believers who are characterized by humility, persistence, and a passion for the body of Christ. We give God honor when we pursue harmony.
Sadly, other human beings are our biggest obstacles when it comes to practicing the spiritual art of harmony. Sometimes it seems as though the church would be a great place if we could get rid of the people! But how do we do church with people? How do we get everyone to love or even tolerate one another? How do we bring the Baptist and the Episcopalian together? The Methodist and the Presbyterian? The Lutheran and the Catholic? And how do we achieve harmony beyond the wall of the church in all creeds, classes, and groupings of people? Between Jews and Arabs, for instance? Between men and women? African-Americans and Caucasians? How do we respect each other’s traditions and cultures without reacting defensively and adopting a segregating mind-set instead of an inclusionary one?
Paul knew of only two ways: to ground all relationships in the one relationship all believers have with the Lord Jesus Christ, and to rely on the power of the one Spirit who lives in all believers to maintain unity.
If our fellowships are going to be places to which unbelievers want to come, they must know that we would like to have them there – even if they are not like us. Many churches consciously try to be seeker-friendly by incorporating contemporary music and drama into worship and using different ways to attract young adults. This is a good thing. We just need to remember that there are also middle-age seekers and old seekers who would be helped to feel comfortable when hearing a familiar hymn from their childhood perhaps. Rather than allowing music to become a source of serious grumbling and discord in churches (which it often is), we should think in terms of what make ...
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