Theory and Theology

I am a music major and a religion minor. These fields of study are very distinct and sometimes feel worlds apart. But I’m writing this post as a personal reminder that they are related–a personal reminder of why I do what I do.

I serve a triune God, consisting of the unified yet distinct persons of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. And each is uniquely involved in the performance of life.

  • God the Composer (Father):

“For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

Before a note of the work is performed, the Composer puts great effort into crafting His creation. Before the performers themselves know how the piece will go, the composer designs a specific task for each performer to complete. God the Composer “saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in [His] book and planned before a single one of them began” (Psalm 139:16).

Because I am not God the Composer, I can’t fully understand what was going through His mind as He wrote the work. Sometimes there are passages that never seem to resolve to a normal sound. But He never fails to make “everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Sometimes there are chords that make no sense when standing alone. But His ingenuity is found in the moment of glory: when painful-sounding chords transition to, and magnify, chords that make sense in the grand-scheme of the composition. After all, the Composer’s “power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

I also can’t always know exactly how the piece is intended to be played. Thankfully, my God is also a Conductor.

  • God the Conductor (Spirit)

“When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak whatever He hears. He will also declare to you what is to come.” John 16:13

God the Conductor knows exactly what God the Composer was thinking when He planned out the work–because He was with Him as it was being written (Genesis 1:26). Because He understands what the Composer intended, He is perfectly capable of guiding the performers in the right direction. As our patient Conductor, He teaches us how we are to play the music and reminds us when we forget (John 14:26).

The Conductor knows us personally and distributes parts, “distributing to each person as He wills” (1 Corinthians 12:11). And although He has different plans for each performer, He unites the group under His own direction and “the peace that binds us” (Ephesians 4:3).

But even with music from the Composer and direction from the Conductor, we still would not know how to play unless we had a model to follow.

  • God the Performer (Son)

The Lord your God is with you,
    the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
    in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
    but will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

Our God is also an internationally-famous performer who has graced us with His presence. He “took up residence among us,” and “we observed His glory” (John 1:14). In fact, He is so glorious that the entire piece was written to showcase His ability. We are merely the accompaniment to His beautiful melody.

The problem–for us–with playing the “background music” is that we must find balance with the performer. We can’t always hear the Great Soloist; sometimes He uses His “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12). In those cases, it’s easy to think that we have the more important part and need to be heard. At other times His voice is so powerful that our accompaniment as a whole pales in comparison; everyone hears His voice “in power” and “in splendor” (Psalm 29:4). But our job remains: to glorify the Soloist.

Thankfully, the Great Soloist is willing to instruct us, because He can “sympathize with our weaknesses” (Hebrews 4:15). Because He understands performance anxiety, and because He cares, He teaches us how to approach the stage “with boldness” (Hebrews 4:16). And it is all because of Him that we are able to do so.

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