Many (many) years ago, I was in the Boy Scouts. (Yes, the Boy Scouts existed back then.) One fall, our troop attended a Jamboree, which is a gathering of Boy Scouts from around the region. There were hundreds (maybe more than a thousand?) Boy Scouts in a large open field. During the day, there would be games and contests between the various troops.
I participated in one such contest – a fire building contest. Now, the rules of this contest were simple: using two matches (yes, I realize this is cheating to many real scouts) and whatever material the team can gather from the woods (we could not cut anything, it had to be on the ground already), each team was to build a fire that would burn a string that was stretched across the fire pit several feet (2-3?) above the ground. The team that burned the string in the least amount of time would win the contest.
Our team watched several groups go before us. Most of the teams divided the different tasks among team members. Some would gather pine straw; others would gather small sticks; still others would gather larger pieces of wood. Another member of the team would be responsible for placing the material in the fire pit – some teams made pyramids of wood, while other teams made boxes of wood. Finally, the teams would light their fire, blow carefully on the flame, and wait for the fire to burn the string. Some fires never started. Other fires blazed quickly and finally burned the string.
As we talked amongst ourselves, our team had an idea. It wouldn’t be pretty… but it just might work. When it was time for our team to compete, everyone ran into the woods and gathered as much pine straw as possible. We placed all the pine straw under, around, and over the string – the pine straw covered the string by at least 6 inches. Then, we carefully lit the pine straw and stood back. WOOOOOSH… In seconds, the pine straw and string were consumed. We won the competition.
The other groups complained. We didn’t build a real fire, some said. Our fire only burned for a few seconds, others complained. The pine straw fire didn’t produce any heat at all. Some suggested that we cheated by not using wood and not stacking the wood carefully into a pyramid or box. The other teams were mad… boy, were they mad.
But, and here’s the interesting part, after laughing for a few minutes, the judges awarded us the prize. Why? Because we followed the rules and completed the competition in the shortest amount of time. Remember, the rules were simple: burn the string. We did that. It wasn’t pretty. It didn’t provide much heat. It didn’t burn long. We couldn’t even roast a marshmallow. But, we burned the string. And that is what counted.
When the church gathers together, Paul gives us one simple rule: Let everything be done for edification. (1 Corinthians 14:26) While this is a simple command, it is often lost among many things that happen when the church gathers together. This week, I want to study “edification”. What does “edification” mean? How is a believer edified? Who is responsible for edification? There may be a few other questions that come up during this week’s post.
Like the scout teams that we beat in the fire building competition, you may think that I’m cheating because of the simplicity. You may think that I have left out too many things. You may think that my suggestions fail in some area. Please remember, the goal is simple: edification.