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Why Divisions – Part 4

Why Divisions – Part 4: “Sectionals
Prepared by Elder Dwight Burford
February 11, 2016 (Updates through April 14, 2024)


While in prayer for our Lord’s church and her various members, my thoughts are often drawn back to a conversation I had with my older children from years ago now after a particular rehearsal of the Wichita Wind Ensemble bands at Friends University.  On our drive home they spoke of being in sectionals that day.

Having very limited band experience myself (only a short while in grade school), I asked them what they do in sectionals.  As they each shared their experience from that day, a new and richer view of the church came crisply into my mind; that of seeing the church like a band or orchestra in which there are many musicians seated in sections, each having a unique musical instrument and an appropriate part to play.

These thoughts reminded me of how Paul wrote of the church being a body with hands and feet, eyes and ears, etc.  Drawing our attention to the similarities between the church and the human body, Paul illustrated how each member of the body of Christ is a necessary part of the whole—as a member in particular.  This, he said, is true even if a member or group of members do not consider themselves or others to be a part of the body or a necessary part of the whole.

For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ.  For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.  For the body is not one member, but many. 

If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?  And if the ear shall, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?  If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing?  If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? 

But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.  And if they were all one member, where were the body?  But now are they many members, yet but one body.  And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee; nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you… (I Corinthians 12:12-21)

As I contemplated this unique arrangement God has placed in His church, I also wondered what would happen if the different members of a bands viewed themselves as being separate from other members of the band—like some of the members of the church in Corinth apparently felt about themselves and others resulting in their divisions.  If such a thought prevailed, where then would the band (body) be?  Could an individual clarinetist or the whole clarinet section think of themselves or itself as not being a part of the band and yet there be a band?  Even if the trombone, French horn, or trumpet sections were to view themselves as being separate from the rest of the band, the band nonetheless must remain comprised of them all, as members playing different instruments but one piece.

Obviously, the different band members and sections of members are called to play different parts of the musical score.  As such, some may wonder at times if they or another member or section is part of the same band that they are a part of because their sheet music includes different notes and annotations.  After all, the sheet music the piccolo players play does not look like the sheet music for the trombone, French Horn, trumpet, or the various percussion pieces.

Each instrument and section are given different notes to play at different times when they perform together as the band.  So how can they see themselves as one body of musicians?   To do so, they must look to the director, the conductor, and play together under his or her leadership.  This one individual must bring them together to unify their efforts.  He or she must give each section and each musician a place in the band and a corresponding piece of music that differs from the rest, yet which is written by a composer to harmonize as a whole as they play.  Only in this way can each musician express himself or herself within and through playing their instrument with the other musicians.

What if the flute were to say to the tuba, you must not be playing the right notes because they do not sound anything like what I have on my sheet music?  The oboe may be inclined to say to the saxophones, “Where did you get that music? It surely could not have come from my conductor because it doesn’t sound like what I’ve been given to play.”

Even within a given section the different members of that section are given different parts to play—first chair, second chair, etc.  Should we expect all of them to sound exactly alike?  If so, where would be the harmony and the depth and richness of the musical score being rehearsed for a performance?

While it may seem obvious that not all members of a band are asked to play the same notes, it does not appear that it is obvious to all members of the body of Christ that they are not asked to play the same notes as members of His body, as members in particular.  To make this point clear, Paul writes:

Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? I say unto you, Nay; for I have shown unto you a more excellent way, therefore covet earnestly the best gifts.  (I Corinthians 12:27-31)

We must be careful then not to view the body of Christ as being limited to the part we have been called upon to play.  We must allow the Lord to put together a band or orchestra that has many members and sections, all of which He is able to guide and direct and eventually bring together for one great performance.

The big question is this: are we doing our part?  Are we actually rehearsing our part so when called upon we are able to play our notes as clearly and precisely as the director or conductor would like so the whole band sounds as it should?  It is too easy to concern ourselves with the performance of others than our own performance.  If we so preoccupy ourselves with how others are playing their particular piece, we more than likely will fail to properly prepare ourselves to play our part when and as we should.

Sectionals are rehearsals, not practices.  Practicing is what each musician does on his or her own under the guidance of a music teacher specifically skilled in that particular instrument and style of performance.  A rehearsal is when the individual musicians come together to rehearse together in preparation of rehearsing with the whole band in preparation of an anticipated performance.

So, while it may be tempting to try and correct others when they make a mistake and to call them out for their sour notes, that is the director’s job along with his section coaches.  True, what others do reflects on everyone else in the band (the body).  But by remembering that the director is in the best position to make the necessary corrections and changes, each member of the body (like a band) will perform their best as part of the whole.  While we can encourage others and provide helpful tips, we must remember that our main job is to practice, rehearse, and then perform our notes when called for by the director.

Will we be ready each day to sound our notes when called upon?  Or will we have wasted our time in our private practice time and when grouped in sectionals criticizing others when we should be practicing and rehearsing our part?  The performance will reveal it.  It always does.

This may be viewed as a negative incentive, but it helps to remember how awkward it is to hear a musician play a sour note in the middle of a great piece.  Everyone can be doing their best and yet the whole performance can become memorable for the wrong reason because an unpracticed musician failed to come in on cue or they play their part poorly.

Every day each of us has a part to play and, as such, we need to be well practiced and rehearsed in our private times, beginning early in the morning each day.  We cannot expect to rely on our section of the band or orchestra to carry the tune for us.  Each and every one of us has a part to play and no one else can play it for us.  So, remember that watching how others play is the responsibility of the section leaders and ultimately that of the conductor.  Chaos and confusion can reign otherwise.

We are not to covet or envy the part God has given to others to play.  Instead, we are to covet the best gifts which He gives to all of us through His Holy Spirit, which are faith, hope, and charity.

Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?  I say unto you, Nay; for I have shown unto you a more excellent way, therefore covet earnestly the best gifts.  (I Corinthians 12:30,31)

And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.  (I Corinthians 13:13)

Behold, I will show unto the Gentiles their weakness, And I will show unto them that faith, hope and charity bringeth unto Me the fountain of all righteousness.  (Ether 5:29)

To covet after these best gifts is to hunger and thirst after righteousness in the Holy Ghost.  Those who so hunger and thirst will be filled with the Spirit of God and from them will spring forth every good and perfect work of God.

And blessed are all they that do hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled with the Holy Ghost.  (Matthew 5:8)

For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.  (Romans 14:17)

Through these means, God enables each of us to bring to fruition our unique gifts and talents in a way that is complementary and well-orchestrated by the One who guides and directs from above.

Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.  (II Corinthians 12:27)

And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance; for ye serve the Lord Christ.  (Colossians 3:23,24)

Receiving a goodly reward from the Lord and hearing Him say, Well done, good and faithful servant, may then be realized by preparing each day to do our part well.  For the government is to rest of the shoulders of our Lord Jesus Christ who will reward the faithful graciously.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of his government and peace there is no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.  (Isaiah 9:6,7)

Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. He shall feed his flock like a shepherd; he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young. (Isaiah 40:10,11)

Behold, the Lord hath proclaimed unto the end of the world, Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before Him.  And they shall call them, The holy people, The redeemed of the Lord; and thou shalt be called, Sought out, A city not forsake. (Isaiah 62:11,12)

It is His right to rule.  How each of us as members of the body prepare will also determine our part and placement in this great orchestration which the Lord will bring together in these latter days.

As a final note, some of my children who play woodwind instruments have also spoken of sitting in front of the brass section (or the percussion section).  Given where they are sitting, it is hard to hear at times the whole band or orchestra.  They still need to play their notes, even if it sounds like other drowns out their music.  Why?  The conductor hears all of the musicians and directs them to play in such a way that the audience hears the composition as the composer (our heavenly Father) intended it.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.  (Ephesians 2:10)

From where we are seated, the score may not sound like a well-balanced piece, but when we get to hear it as the audience, we will hear the beauty designed by God.  So, while we are practicing or in sectionals we need to get our part right.  Then, when playing our part with the whole body—and perhaps it seems only those close to us playing their notes loud and clear—we need to give thanks that we all have a part to play.

For one day, when the great conductor gathers us all together in one and lifts His baton, what a marvelous day that will be!

An Admonition and Warning

Prior to His death and resurrection, Jesus warned His disciples of the destruction of Jerusalem and of the great distress of nations to come (see Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21).  In preparing them for ministry during the troubled times ahead, Jesus taught them a series of parables followed by a description of the manner of judgment with which He would judge all peoples, including them.

In addition to preparing them for ministry, Jesus gave them this set of parables to prepare His disciples to give an accounting for when He returned regarding that which He was entrusting into their care.

Consider, for example, the parable of the just and unjust servants in Matthew 24.  Jesus pointed out the differing characteristics of two servants.  One fed the flock while the other beat his fellow servants.  The reward each will receive is starkly different and reveals the great divide which will exist between them in eternity.  One will be welcomed into the kingdom while the other will be cut off and cast into outer darkness.

Along with this parable, Jesus made it abundantly clear to His disciples that their responsibility was to feed His sheep, not spend their time assailing each other.  As Paul would put it years later, “Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own mater he standeth or falleth; yea, he shall be holden up; for God is able to make him stand.”  This is not our job to judge each other, for it is written vengeance is the Lord’s, and He will surely repay with a reward for each person when brought into judgment before Him.  Our Lord is able to prosper anyone and everyone He calls to the serve, but He resist the proud such that they will not prosper according to their own plans.

As we read on in Matthew 25, Jesus also taught His disciples the parable of about 10 virgins.  Included in this group of individuals there were five who were foolish and five of who were wise.  With this teaching, the importance of having there lamps burning with sufficient oil in reserve was clearly communicated.  Jesus had taught them earlier how He had given them to be the light of the world, and He commissioned them accordingly to let the world see their good works (the works of the Father) and glorify their Father in heaven.

Another parable Jesus taught was the parable of the talents.  Here, Jesus spoke plainly to His disciples about how He would judge each one according to the agency or stewardship He assigned to every man according to his several ability.  Yes, the twelve were all called and ordained to be His apostles.  Nevertheless, they were to go into all the world, wherever the Spirit of the Lord would lead them, and minister as directed by Him (as the head of the body, the church).  According to their several callings, some would go on to write the gospels we have today—including specific epistles to individual churches—while others were apparently not specifically called to write.

In summary, in each of the parables Jesus outlined for His disciples, the manner in which His judgment would be administered upon His return would take into account how each of them has served Him.  How they individually carried out the service entrusted into his care will determine their reward.

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you; and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.  (Acts 1:8)

And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me to give every man according as his work shall be.  (Revelation 22:12)

In each of His parables, the measure by which our Lord will base His judgment was clearly identified for His disciples.  In particular, it will be based on their service to others, especially to those Jesus identified as His brethren.  To Peter, Jesus put the matter rather plainly with these words:  If you love me, feed my lambs… feed my sheep.

Dividing to Every Man Severally as He Will

So far in this series we have reviewed how certain divisions are created in the body of Christ:

  • Part 1 – Divisions come of our own carnal nature and are often revealed by broken covenants, especially the marriage covenant;
  • Part 2 – Divisions are manifest in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper of the New Testament (Covenant) to reveal those who are approved of the Lord and those who are not approved of Him; and
  • Part 3 – Divisions are drawn along a line of division God has established between those choosing to yield to His will and those choosing to rebel against Him—either knowingly or unknowingly—within the time limit allotted for choosing between which side of this line we will enter eternity on.

Now, in Part 4 in this series, we have reviewed the constructive divisions the Lord places within His body, the church, by design and according to His wisdom to edify His body the church.  Hands, feet.  Eyes and ears.  Each member is a member in particular, yet one of the whole.  We have also focused on particular lessons from Jesus’ teachings to His disciples.  Namely, the importance of ministering to others according to the gifts and talents our Lord has made us agents or stewards over.

A unique set of divisions has been established in our Lord’s church by way of the diversities of the gifts, differences of administrations, and diversities of operations that He gives to the many members of His severally as He will by His Spirit

Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.  But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues; But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many.  (I Corinthians 12:4-14)

Each of these gifts is given to build up or edify the Lord’s church through individual members working together so they may become a unified whole, a complete and functioning body.  By design each gift adds capability and strength to the entire body of Christ.

Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. … And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ; till we, in the unity of the faith, all come to the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ; from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.  (Ephesians 4:8,11-16)

In Conclusion

Taken together, the diversities of gifts and the divisions they introduce are intended to enable each member to contribute within and to our Lord’s church—the church He said He would build—in a manner that complements and augments the contributions of each and every other member of the body.  While these many gifts appear as divisions, they work in harmony to reveal the person of Jesus Christ to the world through His body the church by each making increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, I give unto you to be the salt of the earth; but if the salt shall lose its savor, wherewith shall the earth be salted? the salt shall thenceforth be good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Verily, verily, I say unto you, I give unto you to be the light of the world; a city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Behold, do men light a candle and put it under a bushel? Nay, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light to all that are in the house. Therefore, let your light so shine before this world, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:15-18)

A new commandment I give unto you. That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.  (John 13:34,35)

As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.  (John 17:18-21)

So do your part.  Be practiced in your particular calling so you may effectively contribute to the whole body when called upon.  This is your reasonable service.

Romans 12:1-21

1    I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

2    And be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God is.

3    For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly that he ought to think, but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

4    For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office;

5    So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and everyone members one of another.

6    Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;

7    Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering; or he that teacheth, on teaching;

8    Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation; he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness.

9    Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil and cleave to that which is good.

10  Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another;

11  Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;

12  Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;

13  Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.

14  Bless them which persecute you; bless, and curse not.

15  Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.

16  Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.

17  Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.

18  If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

19  Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

20  Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink; for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.

21  Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.