The world is spinning – seemingly out of control. Divergence not diversity is the theme. Lies trump truth. Pain and hurt, shame and guilt abound. Vile comments, pictures, and behaviors sear our souls. Violence and human misery cause our hearts to despair. How can we live in these times? What can we do to share the mind of Christ in 2018? The word that floated into my mind as I pondered how to live faithfully in today’s world is HARMONY. Watch this space for ideas on how to live in harmony in 2018. And share your ideas about living in harmony in a comment.
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In 1971, a popular jingle advertising Coca-Cola, I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke, was re-recorded (omitting the references to Coke) as the song I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing by the New Seekers and the Hilltop Singers. It became a hit in the United States and the United Kingdom. This song popped into my mind as I was musing about the concept of harmony. Here is my favorite verse (click here to listen to the entire song):
I’d like to teach the world to sing
in perfect harmony
I’d like to hold it in my arms,
And keep it company
This verse is a simple but lovely metaphor for the yearning we all have to live in harmony. I suspect that most of us think of “harmony” in terms of music, as in “the combination of simultaneous musical notes in a chord,” or “four-part harmony.” If you have ever played an instrument or sung in a choir, or just love listening to music, you know the jarring effect of hearing a soprano singing “sharp” or “flat” or a violin being out of tune.
Harmony also can mean congruence – as in the smile on my face matches my inner joy, rather than masking my discomfort. It can mean agreement or accord, as in “The members of the committee were in harmony about the decision to disband the group.” Finally, harmony can refer to internal calm and tranquility, as in “I rocked the sleeping baby and felt in harmony with the universe.”
The apostle Paul uses the word harmony twice in the book of Romans and once in Corinthians, encouraging us to live in harmony with each other. But the concept is the bedrock of the arc of the Christian Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation. It is a concept that we clearly see in the life of Jesus. Jesus lived in harmony with the other members of the Trinity. He lived in harmony with his family, his disciples, and others he met in his ministry – and even with Pilate. As the incarnation of God in human form, he was authentic and congruent; he was the same on the inside as he was on the outside. And finally, he was in harmony with the environment that he created; he spoke loving about the earth and its blossoms and creatures and lived respectfully on it.
These, then, are the four areas of harmony we will explore in this series of posts: internal harmony, harmony with others, harmony with God and God’s will, and harmony with the earth we have been trusted to care for. And these are some of the questions we will try to answer about harmony: Why do we need it? How do we get it? How do we keep it? How do we teach it?
It seems to me that our greatest gift to the worlds we live in (families, neighborhoods, churches, workplaces, political groups, social media etc.) is to face the destructiveness of disharmony and learn how to bring harmony wherever we go.