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January 22, 2011 – Nehemiah 12

One of the fun parts of studying the Bible as a group like we are is that you get to make up whatever spiritual applications you want (go with me on this). Nehemiah 12 describes the re-dedication of the walls of Jerusalem, complete with a parade. One half of the parade, led by Ezra, went to the “right,” and the other, led by Nehemiah, to the “left” around the city wall.

A lot of preachers like to draw a big spiritual application from this of us all working together in sweet harmony as these two choirs marched around the wall and then joined together in one rousing chorus of We Are the World in the temple court. Unfortunately, reconstructing these routes isn’t quite as definitive as we have been led to believe. In reality, it’s possible they ended up on opposite sides of the city (Ezra’s group by the temple, and Nehemiah’s group on the other side of the city) and then came later to the temple to celebrate. The description of the order of gates and such that the groups passed over is somewhat ambiguous.

MIGHT AS WELL JOIN THE MASSES

Of course, we won’t let that stop us from making a spiritual application, but we’re gonna do it a little different. We’ll add verses 9 and 24, where it says that singers stood opposite each other. “Opposite” here means counterpart or against, and could be taken to mean a “call and response” type of music. But it could also mean a more complicated counterpoint type of music with different musical ideas happening at once, or music where there is a tension.

Anyone who’s been involved in church worship music knows this is not all that uncommon. You may have heard an exchange something like this:

Guitar Player: hey, do you mind if I turn my guitar up? I can’t hear it.
Keyboard Player: Sure, if your guitar is more important than God.

Tension is almost always a part of any music group, and worship teams are no exception. There’s little that divides a church faster than a separation between the hymns and hymn-nots.

SYMPHONY AND SYNTHESIZERS

But here’s the encouraging part: just because our music may be going in opposite directions doesn’t mean we can’t all come to the temple together. That’s the great thing about church. Unlike other groups or organizations where people of similar tastes and interests come together to talk about their commonalities, church members come together and work together despite our differences.

Or perhaps because of our differences. It seems that God delights in bringing opposite personality types together to force us to grow in His grace to get along. Even the disciples had their share of personality conflicts, and Jesus verbally chose them all. Just because we don’t always agree with each other, doesn’t mean that we can’t all worship together.

So your assignment this weekend is to go to church. Even if you don’t necessarily agree with everyone or everysong at church, your voice may be just what God wants to complete his master opus.

And try not to glare at the guitar player.

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