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In Perfect Harmony
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In 1971 Coca Cola came out with an ad that went down in history as one of the best of all times. The advertisement featured young people representing the nations of the world, standing on a hillside in Italy, singing while holding bottles of Coke. Soon the bouncy tune and feel-good lyrics had people around the world singing along. Two of the more familiar lines from the jingle are:

I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony
I’d like to buy the world a Coke and keep it company.

What is it about singing in “perfect harmony” that we find so pleasing? Notes that compliment each other work together to bring us beauty in sound, whether by instrument or the human voice, and something responds within us to this harmony. No matter the size of the group, rich harmonies thrill us!

Perhaps one reason we respond the way we do to harmony in music is that harmony speaks to our deep need for human connection and cooperation. Voices or instruments blending, with no particular voice being heard over another, represent this. Harmonies complement rather than compete. No individual voice strives for domination; all voices blend to form a balanced sound.

Unrealistic Expectation?

Romans 12:16 says, “Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!” We are called, as Christ followers to live in harmony with each other. But is this an unrealistic expectation?

Maybe the analogy of musical harmony is helpful in understanding how harmony works in relationships. If one part of the harmonic structure (say, the tenor section) overpowers the other parts the sound is not pleasing. If the altos or basses decide to really belt out their part in an effort to make sure they are heard, the results are disastrous.

When sub-groups of people within a community of faith decide that their cause or their opinions or beliefs are more important than anyone else’s they may dominate to make sure their voice is heard. But the overall sound will suffer and the “audience” will be repulsed rather than enthralled by what they hear.

The Apostle Paul’s call to live in harmony is followed by a couple of how-to’s. First, get over your pride and don’t think you are better than others. Your part in the choir is no better than any other. Then he makes sure we really understand by adding, “And don’t think you know it all!” Harmony cannot happen within a community if the choir is full of prideful know-it-alls.

Maybe the words of the Coke jingle could be re-written for communities of faith: I’d like to teach the church to sing in perfect harmony If love and grace adorn our space, the world will come to see.

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By Nancy Gerard. Copyright © 2014 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW LIVING TRANSLATION ©.

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