As I said in the “introduction” to this blog series, I believe that believers should seek to edify one another whenever they gather together. In this series, I’m trying to answer the question, “What is edification?” Edification does not depend upon specific activities, so the focus will not be those activities. Instead, the focus will be on helping one another mature in Christ in certain aspects of our lives: relationship with God, relationship with one another, and relationship with others. This is the concluding post in the series.
Now, to be honest, there is little new in this series. In fact, most Christians would agree with what I’ve written – at least in theory. Of course, the general community practice (or lack of practice) among Christians in America would say that they actually disagree, but that’s for another post.
So, why take the time to write something like this that almost everyone profess agreement with? Because the posts need to all be taken together. In other words, I started this series with a discussion of “mutuality” and “edification.” I’ve written previously about the mutual aspect of church meetings. We should be working together to edify the entire church in the areas of our relationships with God, one another, and others.
But, in most churches in America, the church does not work together to edify one another. Instead, the work of edification is placed in the hands of one or two (or at least a small group) of leaders. What happens in this scenario is that the leader’s emphasis becomes the church’s emphasis. If the leader is mostly concerned about relationship with God, then that will become the church’s focus, because that is what is primarily edified.
I’ve seen this happen in church after church, even when the leaders have good intentions. I’ve been to churches that “major” in caring for other Christians. Guess what? The pastor was mostly concerned about caring for other Christians, so that’s primarily how he edified the church. I’ve been part of a church that was known (nationally) as an evangelistic church. Why? Because the senior pastor was primarily concerned with evangelism and reaching others, so that’s how he primarily edified the church.
So, what happens when edification is spread among the entire church… when the whole church sees edification as the responsibility of every believer? While each may have an emphasis (God, one another, or others), the church as a while will see the emphasis spread among all.
Once again, we need one another. I naturally (supernaturally, I hope) tend to encourage people in their relationships with other Christians. I need those brothers and sisters who will encourage me in my relationships with God and with nonChristians. Even given my best efforts and best intentions, if I were the only one edifying the church when we met together, then I would tend to emphasize caring for other Christians and living in community with our brothers and sisters in Christ. This is good and important, but it should not be emphasized above the other aspects of our relationships with God and with unbelievers. I need to be edified in those other areas as well.
Plus, at any time, a group of Christians can tend to shift in one direction or another, neglecting either their relationship with God, with one another, or with others. I think we can use these three aspects as guides. Are we growing in each area? How do we know? What fruit do we see? Is this only individual growth or do we see corporate growth as well? What needs to be adjusted?
Do you agree that considering our relationships with God, one another, and others is a good measure of our edification or our need for edification? Do you agree with my emphasis on the importance on the whole church working together to edify one another? What would add to my discussion about edification?