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 one another.
In order to help our brothers and sisters (and of course, ourselves) grow in our relationship with one another, once again we must know one another. Is someone spending time with other believers? Is she discipling someone and being discipled? Is he giving and sharing and caring for other brothers and sisters?
And, this is where it gets very tricky. Why? Because so many in the church assume that attendance is the same as relationship and fellowship. But, they are not the same.
The types of relationships that the church needs cannot be built and matured in scheduled or weekly meetings. Instead, our relationships in Christ are grown in the struggles of life when those struggles are shared with one another. It is in this type of scenario that we truly learn to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.
For those who refuse to seek maturing relationships with others (or are apathetic toward the importance of those maturing relationships), the church must help, exhort, even admonish them. The health of the church is intimately tied to the mutual relationship between the brothers and sisters. As Paul wrote, the church grows in love which each part serves the others as he or she is gifted. Paul compares this mutual relationship to the working and connection of muscles, ligaments, and bones.
We also must not forget that our relationships with one another is a demonstration of our relationship with God, both individually and corporately. Remember that John wrote that it is impossible to love God if we do not love our brothers and sisters.
And, (to paraphrase a question that Jesus was asked) who is our brother or sister? Our brother and sister is any follower of Jesus Christ who God brings into our lives. Neither church membership, nor denomination, nor theological system excludes or exempts us from the responsibility of building maturing relationships with other brothers and sisters that God brings into our lives.
If we see evidences of selfishness or self-centeredness, we should seek to help those people mature. But, the same can be said of divisiveness or lack of demonstrating love.
How do we address problems in relationships with other believers? Certainly teaching and words of encouragement can be helpful, but they are never enough. As with our relationships with God, relationships with one another must be modeled and demonstrated.
Again, there is so much that could be written concerning edification and our relationship with one another. Community and fellowship are not just good ideas for the church; they are necessary for the church to grow in maturity, which means community is necessary for each of us to grow in maturity. This means that discipleship and sanctification rely on our community and fellowship with one another.
What would you add to my discussion of the relationship between edification and our relationship with one another?