Handel's Messiah - Week of January 3rd

By Judy Nichols

January 3, 2016

Handel's Messiah

I’ve been listening to Handel’s Messiah during the Christmas season this year. Besides being a fairly complete compilation of the Scriptures concerning the coming and ministry of the Messiah, it is an incredibly complex and beautiful piece of music. What strikes me the most about it is that each part -- soprano, alto, tenor, and bass -- can be singing not only a different melody but also different words, yet it is never chaotic or out of harmony. Each movement is different from all the others, yet they come together as a cohesive whole, and give great pleasure to the listener.

Romans 15:5 encourages us to "live in such harmony with one another...that together [we] may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." The context of the preceding chapter is that of stronger believers disdaining weaker ones and weaker believers judging the stronger. Some who had come to Christ from among the Jews had trouble with the idea that they could now eat anything they wanted, that no food was "unclean." This was causing some discord and division among them. Paul’s message to them was that what they ate or didn’t eat was of less importance than showing love to one another. "For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Rom. 14:17). He wanted them to know that their righteousness was neither enhanced nor degraded by what they ate, but was the gift of God through faith in Jesus Christ (see Romans 3: 21-16). And the sooner they learned that, the sooner they would be able to love each other and experience peace and joy in the Christian life.

Paul could have encouraged the Romans to "live in such unity with one another" and, indeed, this is what I might have expected to read. But unity might be mistaken for uniformity. And uniformity is not what God is interested in. One need only look at the creation to see that God delights in diversity. No one else’s faith will ever look exactly like mine, nor will mine ever look like anyone else’s. Each person is uniquely created and has lived a life distinctly different from everyone else’s. God has met each one’s needs in ways specific to them and has led them on particular paths through life and to Himself.

Love is to be the distinctive characteristic of those who belong to Christ. Jesus said, "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:35). When we love as we are called to do, the world will sit up and take notice. Living in harmony, though we each may be singing different words and different melodies, not only impacts those around us, but also glorifies our God. May we make it our goal to live in such a way that we present a beautiful and cohesive masterpiece to all who listen – both the people around us and God in heaven.

© Judy Nichols 2015

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