On a lovely summer evening, a capacity crowd gathered in a beautiful outdoor venue for a concert by one of my college friends. It happened to be his birthday, so the emcee hinted that we might want to sing “Happy Birthday” to him. One by one, people started singing, each in a different key, each at a different tempo. As the jumble of notes and words joined together, the result was, well, less than harmonic. It wasn’t even melodious. It was in fact downright pitiful. When my friend took the stage, he gave us another chance. He didn’t give us the pitch, but he did give us a downbeat, so at least we were singing together. By the end of the song most people were somewhat close to the same key.
The noise that was supposed to be a song reminded me of a problem in a first-century church. They couldn’t agree on their leader. Some followed Paul; others Apollos (1 Cor. 3:4). The result was conflict and division (v.3). Instead of music, they were making noise. When people don’t agree on a leader, they all “sing” (I’m speaking metaphorically here) at the pace and pitch most comfortable for them.
To make beautiful music that will attract unbelievers to Jesus, all believers must follow the same leader, and that leader must be Christ.
Keeping in tune with Christ keeps harmony in the church.