Romans 15:4-13 creates the beautiful image of many voices coming together in one part harmony. I know there is no such thing as one part harmony in music, but it describes what I hear when I read these scriptures.
That’s exactly what Jesus did. He didn’t make it easy for himself by avoiding people’s troubles, but waded right in and helped out. “I took on the troubles of the troubled,” is the way Scripture puts it. Even if it was written in Scripture long ago, you can be sure it’s written for us. God wants the combination of his steady, constant calling and warm, personal counsel in Scripture to come to characterize us, keeping us alert for whatever he will do next. May our dependably steady and warmly personal God develop maturity in you so that you get along with each other as well as Jesus gets along with us all. Then we’ll be a choir—not our voices only, but our very lives singing in harmony in a stunning anthem to the God and Father of our Master Jesus!
So reach out and welcome one another to God’s glory. Jesus did it; now you do it! Jesus, staying true to God’s purposes, reached out in a special way to the Jewish insiders so that the old ancestral promises would come true for them. As a result, the non-Jewish outsiders have been able to experience mercy and to show appreciation to God. Just think of all the Scriptures that will come true in what we do! For instance:
Then I’ll join outsiders in a hymn-sing;
I’ll sing to your name!
And this one:
Outsiders and insiders, rejoice together!
People of all nations, celebrate God!
All colors and races, give hearty praise!
And Isaiah’s word:
There’s the root of our ancestor Jesse,
breaking through the earth and growing tree tall,
Tall enough for everyone everywhere to see and take hope!
Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope! ( The Message, Eugene Peterson)
According to its definition, “Harmony is often said to refer to the ‘vertical’ aspect of music.” When I saw that definition, I thought of the “vertical” aspect of the singing in Romans 15. Can you imagine the harmony of all our voices lifted in hearty praise to God? It would be amazing.
When we forget ourselves for a moment and raise our voices in unison, “the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit will brim over with hope,” and the world will hear a harmony that is unlike anything they have ever heard before. That one part harmony would reach out in welcome to the world and raise up to heaven as a very sweet sound in God’s ears. I imagine it would be very like the harmony in heaven. There would be no individual voices vying for attention, but rather one voice lifted together to one God.
In a week filled with difficult lessons that cut deeply, “the God of green” has filled my heart with green shoots of joy, peace, energy, and hope. As always, God amazes me with His ways. I’m sure I’ill never understand His ways until I am in His presence. Until then, I plan to sing in one part harmony with those who share my love for God and invite others to join in and sing together in unending praise to God’s glorious name!