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 others.
I need to pause a moment and explain what I mean by “others.” In my previous post, I used the phrase “one another” to refer to any other follower of Jesus Christ. “One another” does not refer only to those who are part of the same “local church,” or denomination, or theological background. “One another” does not refer only to those with whom we may meet whether daily, weekly, monthly, or whatever. When we meet a new brother or sister, that person immediately becomes part of “one another.”
So, who are the “others”? I use the term “others” to refer to anyone who is NOT a follower of Jesus Christ.
One again, in order to edify the church in the area of our relationships with others, we must know about those relationships. We must know how our brothers and sisters interact with people who are not believers. We must know how they are serving others and how they communicate the good news of Jesus Christ to those who are not disciples.
Once again, painting with broad strokes in this area is not very helpful. Every believer is gifted in different ways and every believer is given different opportunities. Thus, we must take an approach that takes those gifts and opportunities into account.
Similarly, we must know if someone is seeking opportunities to interact with people who are not followers of Jesus Christ. Are they living in a Christian bubble (or Christian ghetto, as some call it) or are they stepping out of the safe zones to share the gospel in word and deed?
The edification, then, comes in helping one another build more and more relationships with those who are not part of the church. We seek to see each other serving and loving those who are unbelievers. And, our relationships must be authentic, actually caring about the people. Also, the gospel must be central to our relationships. But, there is a big problem if we reject people who reject the gospel.
As with the other aspects of edification, we can help one another in our relationship with others through words of instruction and encouragement. But, we must also include examples. Primarily, in order to help one another, we should invite our brothers and sisters to serve others together with us. Walking together in this way is a necessary part of teaching and edification.
There is much more that I could write about edification in the area of our relationships with others. As followers of Jesus Christ, we must be concerned with loving one another (since Jesus said that is how the world will know we are his disciples), but we must also continuously be concerned with sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with others. As God’s children, we are gathered together, but we are also sent. The church must work together to help each other with our mission to the world.
What would you add to my discussion of the connection between edification and our relationships with others?