Bel Canto Christianity

James 1:22-25

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves, do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and after looking at himself, goes away and forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing ikt_mwf_20160716_7966-copyt – he will be blessed in what he does.

The principal clarinettist of a prestigious orchestra went into rehearsal one day to learn that they were considering the addition of a new concerto to next season’s repertoire, a concerto for the clarinet. Our friend the clarinettist is excited and soon is given the music to begin practicing with. On the night of the performance though, the orchestra, conductor, and composer were all shocked and furious to hear the music the clarinettist played was nothing like the score. At the end of the night the performer smiled, waved at the audience, and gave a bow. He even had the gall to walk up to the composer afterwards and ask what he thought. Many of the audience members were so horrified that they swore away the orchestra and the composer forever.

All because one man looked at the music given him but chose to play notes of his own.

This would, of course, be unthinkable to any of us. It is unprofessional, disrespectful, and unpleasant to hear. And yet, while we understand this principle when applied to music, many of us will attend church, smile politely at the message, and then go about our lives as we please.

vocal-winner-1We obey our music down to every minuscule mark on the staff, but we choose to ignore whole passages of scripture. We drink from the cup, wear the little gold cross, indulge in whatever we can get away with throughout the week, and call ourselves Christians. But, that mentality is the same as glancing at the sheet music, holding our instrument, playing whatever notes we like, and calling ourselves musicians. Our lifestyle is inconsistent with our profession.

Some may think Christianity is too rule-bound. It is constrictive, vindictive, holding us back. Instead, we should utilize a more universal acceptance
of all people and lifestyles, not challenging what a person believes. This is what I like to call Bel Canto Christianity, going through the motions but losing the message. What we don’t realize is that these laws, these rules, give us more freedom, not less. Like guardrails on a bridge across a chasm, these rules keep us on track so that we can go further and do more rather than just fall off to our death. Like written music keeps us from sounding chaotic, following God’s word keeps our life in order.

The challenge is to look in the mirror and remember what you see. Study the music and play as the composer has directed. Most of all though, take the time to hear the words of God and live according to them. We are his hands and feet, his representation in this world. We’re privileged to be able to act as the artists portraying God’s message to a world that desperately needs Him. How can we give any less than our best to that purpose?

Ephesians 5:1-2

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.