Have you ever been to a concert of a symphony orchestra? There's something quite dramatic about watching a group of musicians working together under the conductor's leadership to produce beautiful music. If you go to a concert, there are certain members that will stand out to you, and attract your attention.
The conductor, obviously, captures our attention as they wave their hands and baton, and use even the slightest body motions to guide and direct the members of the orchestra.
Then there are the violinists, who often carry the melody, and do so with dramatic sweeps of their bows across the strings. Watching a section of violinists playing in unison and unity is an impressive and beautiful sight.
The timpanist, too, may capture our attention; their arms beat out a rhythm, or create a rumbling thunder sound, occasionally producing sounds that make us want to tap our feet, and occasionally sounds that make the music sound ominous.
There are other musicians who are less likely to capture our attention.
The clarinetist, for example, even if they have a solo (like in the haunting opening phrase of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue), you might not notice them, because their body and arms do not make any grand movements. There is no bow to draw across the strings, no mallet to bang against a tightened drum. Just fingers moving on the instrument -- and if you're far away from the stage, you won't see much movement at all!
And what about those poor bass viol players? Most of the time you could even forget that they're standing there. They don't get the fast, or the melodic, or the dramatic passages to play; most often they are simply plodding along with deep bass notes that you may not even consciously notice.
The church, the body of Christ, is an awful lot like that orchestra. Paul talks in 1 Corinthians 12:22 about parts of the body of Christ being like the violins, and parts like the bass viols.
Okay, those are not the words he uses, but he talks about members of the body that we deem as more honorable, more valuable, and the members we talk about as being less honorable.
The more honorable members are like the violinists. They are the ones who get all the attention, all the praise, all the respect. Everyone sees what they do, and they laud them for it.
But others are like those bass viols. Day after day no one notices what they do, no one says, "Wow! That was amazing what you did yesterday!"
"Great sermon," we tell the pastor.
"What a great job you did cleaning the toilet," we don't ever say to the person who volunteers their time to make sure the church's restrooms are sanitary.
But please allow me to let you in on a little secret. The bass viol is every bit as important as the violin. You might not consciously notice the bass player doing his thing in the background, but if he was gone, you would be very quick to say, "There's something wrong with this piece of music!"
Just as you would be very quick to say, "There's something wrong in this church" if people stopped cleaning toilets, or painting walls, or paying electric bills.
And finally, please let me tell you one last secret. Preacher, evangelist, miracles, helps, administration, they're all important. Paul says so. But he says not to bicker about which is greatest, because there's one thing that's more important than any of them.
Love. It's the more excellent way.