A friend shared a YouTube clip with me recently. (You can see it at: Best coin ever spent.) A lone double bass player – in full evening dress – is busking in the local market square. A young girl puts a coin in the hat in front of him, and he draws the bow across the strings. The bassist is clearly very skilful, but because the notes are so low, it’s difficult to get a sense of what he’s playing.
After a few bars, however, he is joined by a cellist who begins playing the “Ode to Joy” theme from Beethoven’s ninth symphony. The double bass part is now in perfect harmony with the melody line from the cello. Already, the music sounds much better. Before long, a bassoonist and two viola players turn up to add breadth to the sound.
And so it continues. Over the course of several minutes, more and more musicians emerge from the buildings surrounding the square until eventually there is a full orchestra (including conductor) and a choir. What began as a simple tune on one instrument has evolved into a stirring musical masterpiece. Around the square, tourists are clapping and cheering, while small children mimic the actions of the conductor.
I found it all very moving, even though it’s all been staged as an elaborate advertisement for this particular orchestra. Each new instrument added an extra dimension to the performance – but if the players had opted to remain hidden, the rich texture of the music would have been lost. It’s something to ponder when I’m tempted to withdraw from my Christian brothers and sisters. Paul reminds us that we all have a part to play in the body of Christ(1 Corinthians 12: 12 – 27), so if I refuse to take up the role God has assigned me, then something will be missing. By choosing to work alongside others, I can help create something beautiful for God.