Thursday, May 30, 2019

The Church and Edification

One of the great truths of the Christian faith is that Christians need one another for encouragement and edification. In fact, this is one of the main purposes of the church (and her servant leaders). This came home to me in an interesting way when a minister and friend, Grant Sullivan, posted the following video of a deleted scene from the movie, We Were Soldiers.

In the scene, one of the wives of a U.S. Army Cavalryman attempts to sing a solo in her church on a day when many of the men in the congregation, including her husband, are flying into battle against the Vietnamese Army. This is brought into powerful relief by images of the helicopters flying the men to the battlefield as the film cuts back to the scene in the church. It is very moving.

But what is also moving is watching the woman struggle in a halting start to the hymn "My Hope is Built on Nothing Less" (by Edward Mote) and how the church responds as she struggles to sing it. Check it out:

The scene functions at a great many levels and it's too bad that the clip didn't make it into the final edited version of the movie. In this film moment, there is the juxtaposition of the words of the hymn, about the unwavering hope we have in Jesus, and the emotions of the soloist, who is obviously feeling anything but hopeful as she sings it (thinking obviously of her fear for her husband overseas).

And then, in the moment of her fear and struggling, the Church steps in to help her.

This is a beautiful example of edification.

According to the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, edification literally means “building up,” and it is an especially important part of the work of the church and we build one another up and support each other. Here's more from the HIBD:
"...[edification] approximates encouragement and consolation (1 Cor. 14:3; 1 Thess. 5:11), though with edification focus falls on the goal, defined as being established in faith (Col. 2:7) or attaining unity of faith and knowledge, maturity, and the full measure of Christ (Eph. 4:13). Edification is the special responsibility of the various church leaders (Eph. 4:11–12) and is the legitimate context for the exercise of their authority (2 Cor. 10:8; 13:10). The work of building up is, however, the work of all Christians (1 Thess. 5:11). Spiritual gifts are given for the edification of the church. Of these gifts, those which involve speaking are especially important (1 Cor. 14; Eph. 4:29). All elements of Christian worship should contribute to edification (1 Cor. 14:26). Prophecy and instruction are especially important (1 Cor. 14:3, 18–19). Edification is not all talk, however, but involves demonstrating love (1 Cor. 8:1) and consideration for those weak in faith (Rom. 15:1–2)."
In this definition, I focus in on the truth that edification and building up are the work of all Christians. In fact, we are given gifts by the Holy Spirit for doing just that.

So my question for you today is how you are using your gifts to build up the church? Or in what ways are you NOT using your gifts to build up the church?

Let me encourage to see the importance of supporting other Christians in your local congregation. Is there a widow in your church that could use a telephone call today? Is there someone who would be encouraged to receive a handwritten note or card from you? Are you attending the Lord's Day each week faithfully?

How can you edify the body of Christ today?