The Absence of Love and Hearing Loss

Saturday, April 27, 2013

cymbal monkey"If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal." 1 Corinthians 13:1 (ASV)

As a life-long musician having worked with hundreds of musicians both professional and volunteer, this verse has significant meaning. One of the challenges of developing a group of musicians, especially non-professional ones, is get them to play in such a way as to compliment each other. The tendency of many musicians is to play everything all the time. The result is just a lot of busy noise and not much music. And as the above verse puts it, we become nothing more than sounding brass and clanging cymbals. Not very conducive to worship.

But there is another insidious result that has implications for all of us as members of the Body of Christ. If you expose yourself to loud brass and cymbal crashes for long periods of time you can experience significant hearing loss and the irony is that you also lose your ability to distinguish between noise and music. In other words, bad music is not only annoying, it is harmful. Notice I didn't say loud because that is subjective.

The Apostle Paul is using this word picture to help us see something that we must take care to avoid in the Church. We are like an orchestra or band and all of the things we are doing is like music. And if we do not have genuine love for one another, no matter how grand and expertly we are doing those things, we are just making a lot of noise. The result is that those around us will start to experience spiritual hearing loss and can lose their ability to hear God's voice. When this happens we actually start believing that what we are hearing is genuine love when in reality it is just noise. The difference between a professional musician and an amateur is not merely talent, but actually the ability to play in harmony with other musicians. It is the ability to recognize and appreciate what others are playing and strive to enhance and add to it, not take away from it.

The challenge for us is to check our hearing to ensure that we are doing everything out of genuine love. When you start losing your hearing you are the last to know it because you don't realize you can't hear. When I lack Godly love I not only risk hurting myself, I risk causing permanent damage to others around me. May we be people of genuine love so that the world can see the beauty of God through the music of our lives.

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