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 post focuses on helping the church grow in our relationship with God.
To begin, as we think about our individual and our community relationship with God, there are at least two different approaches. One approach is the “shotgun” approach where we present various topics and themes in a general sense and hope that it applies to someone (or a group of people) among us. In general, this is the approach of the modern church.
However, Scripture demonstrates a different approach. In Scripture, the church knows one another so well that we know where each one and the group needs to grow and mature. Consider, for example, Hebrews 10:24, in which the author exhorts his readers to “consider one another.” This is a pinpoint approach to edification, not a broad or general approach. Edification begins when we know one another and think about one another. If we do not actually know one another – i.e., if we do not know about our individual and community relationship with God – then we cannot edify one another in the sense that we find in Scripture. We must begin by being open and honest and authentic with one another and share our lives with one another – not just an hour or two on Sunday or Wednesday.
Once we know one another, we can begin to help one another with our relationship with God.
Our maturity in Christ starts with trusting God – that is, faith. Yes, it is important to know certain facts about God and about Jesus and about the Holy Spirit. But, this alone is not faith. We help one another when we see areas of our individual or corporate lives in which we are not trusting God and then we work toward helping each other trust God more in that area of our lives. As you can imagine, this can be a messy ordeal – and in fact, it usually must be. As Jesus said to the “rich, young ruler,” we must be willing to exhort one another and help one another to put all else aside and trust only God. This type of help would include recognizing when someone is trusting their idea or concept or theology of God and not trusting God himself as a person.
I believe that other aspects of our relationship with God (i.e., love, obedience, or communication) will follow from a growing trust in God, both on the individual and corporate level. Certainly, though, edification would include helping someone or the group to love God, obey God, or listen to/communicate with God. Again, we must be careful not to assume that a confession or profession of love for God is the same as a true love for God. The same is true of trusting God, obeying God, and communicating with God (along with other aspects of our relationship with God). Instead, we should expect that our trust, love, obedience, and communication with God be evident in our lives (another reason that knowing one another is so important).
There is so much more that could be written concerning edification and our personal and corporate relationship with God. But, this is a start. In fact, the other aspects of edification that I’m planning to write about (relationship with one another and relationship with others) follow from our relationship with God. But, the three are interrelated. Often, our relationship with God is demonstrated through our relationships with one another and with others. So, even though I’m treating these as different aspects, we should recognize their interconnectedness when seeking to edify one another. But, I’ll get into that more in the next two parts of the series.
What would you add to the concept of edification and how it relates to maturity in our individual and community relationship with God?