the weblog of Alan Knox

Edification 6 – Simplicity

Posted by on Jun 29, 2007 in edification, gathering | 4 comments

Paul makes a simple statement concerning the gathering of believers, “Let all things be done for edification (building up)”. (1 Corinthians 14:26) The purpose of this series of posts (See “Edification 1 – Introduction“, “Edification 2 – Definition“, “Edification 3 – Scope“, “Edification 4 – Responsibility“, and “Edification 5 – Activities“) is to examine the term “edification” in order to better understand Paul’s simple statement.

I started this series by stating that Paul makes a simple statement concerning the purpose for the church coming together, that is, edification. In unwrapping this term “edification”, I suggested that the Holy Spirit works through many different believers who carry out many different activities in order to bring the whole church to unity, to help them to know Christ more intimately, and to mature them toward being more like Christ.

Over the last two thousand years, the meeting of the church has been orchestrated and planned to the point that it is anything but simple. How would a “simple” understanding of edification play itself out in the lives of individuals believers and the church?

First, each believer seeks God on their own through prayer, reading Scripture, walking step by step trusting God, especially relying on God’s grace. In this way, the Spirit works to edify the individual believer. This step is important in the process of the mutual edification of the church. This is the preparation step in the process of mutual edification. While the individual is being edified by the Spirit – being drawn closer to God and to Christ-likeness – the Spirit is also preparing the believer to be used to edify the church.

When that believer comes together with other believers, the Spirit then prompts that believer to share what God has already shared with them. (Note: this does not preclude the Spirit from revealing something during the time that he or she is gathered with other believers.) This sharing could be in the form of a testimony about what God is doing in her life, or an instruction from Scripture that God has taught him, or a hymn that has been instrumental for them. There are a myriad of ways that God can work through one believer in order to impact the lives of many.

This is a dramatic change from what is normally expected when the church comes together. Many times, as believers think about meeting with the church, they wonder, “What is the teacher/preacher going to present today? What songs are the song leader going to choose?”

Instead, as believers prepare to meet with other believers, their thoughts should be more along the lines of this: “What has God taught me that I can share with other believers? How has God matured me that he could possibly use to encourage others? What has happened in my life that God may use to help my friends?” Then, while the meeting is taking place, each believer should seek to discern if and when God would have them speak or act.

Notice that I am not suggesting that God cannot or will not work through the traditional model. In fact, we all know from experience that God does work when only one person or a small group of people are responsible for the content of the meeting. However, this is not the model that is presented in Scripture.

So, I’m suggesting that the purpose of the meeting of the church (edification) is simple. It does not require sophisticated planning, education, directors, professionals, or scripts. Instead, it requires believers who are indwelled by the Spirit of God and learning from the Spirit from day-to-day following the leading of the Spirit as they meet with other believers. The Spirit himself will take care of the hard work (unity, knowledge, maturity) as we allow ourselves to be used by him.

Edification is simple. Obedience, on the other hand, requires all the grace that God gives us.

“Whenever you come together… let everything be done for edification.” (1 Cor. 14:26)

Series on Edification:
1. Edification 1 – Introduction
2. Edification 2 – Definition
3. Edification 3 – Scope
4. Edification 4 – Responsibility
5. Edification 5 – Activities
6. Edification 6 – Simplicity


4 Comments

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  1. 7-2-2007

    Alan,

    Thanks for the entire series on Edification. It has been very helpful for me. It has led me to be more convinced than ever that the “simple” model of “doing church” is indeed better suited to edification than the “traditional” model. However, I, at the same time, am seeking for how to be most faithful to the desire of Christ for unity in his Body, that includes believers who assemble both in more “simple” contexts and in more “traditional” contexts. I appreciate how you are practically always upbeat and not condemnatory in your attitude toward others with other traditions.

  2. 7-2-2007

    David,

    I agree with, and applaud, your desire to be “most faithful to the desire of Christ for unity in his Body”.

    Just to share my own thought on it (although stealing a bit from Paul), I’m learning more and more that it comes down to each us just doing what we can to be open to unity, whether or not the other party allows unity.

    To put it a different way, I have found unity with Christians in all kinds of contexts. It seems that the unity I have found almost minimizes the differences in structure, while at the same time allowing us to speak into each other’s structures.

    But I have found people in “simple” contexts (I consider myself to be in that context) who have put up walls prohibiting unity, and I have found people in “traditional” contexts who have put up walls.

    Basically, as Paul says, “As much as it depends on you, live at peace with others.”

    As long as our unity comes from Christ and the unity of his holy Spirit, it’s a good thing. But we can’t make others be unified in that, unfortunately.

    All that to say that I don’t think either context (“simple” or “traditional”) need be a factor in unity. Unfortunately, for many, it is.

  3. 7-2-2007

    David Rogers,

    Thank you for the kind words about this series. I’m glad that it has been helpful to you. I am not trying to promote a “simple” model against a “traditional” model. In fact, I believe that either “model” can include just as much or just as little edification as the other “model”. My desire to understand what God has shown us in Scripture, not to examine or promote one model over another. I hope this makes sense.

    I also share your desire for unity in the body of Christ, and I agree that this “includes believers who assemble both in more ‘simple’ contexts and in more ‘traditional’ contexts” – as well as other contexts that neither of us would consider. I believe this type of unity important and necessary for the church.

    Steve,

    I appreciate your comment. I know that you prefer a “simple” context, and I’m glad that you recognize the need for unity within the body of Christ, regardless of the unity. It gives me great hope to see the way that God is working among diverse parts of the church to bring them together in Christ. May He be our focus and our purpose, and may we find our unity in Him!

    -Alan

  4. 7-3-2007

    Alan,

    I realize you are not intending to promote one model over another. However, my personal evaluation, after considering the points you bring up on edification, is that the “simple” model does indeed seem better suited for accomplishing it.

    That’s all. Thanks again for your thoughts and your spirit, which God has used to edify me.