Wednesday, September 29, 2010

God's Glorification Through Mutual Edification

"Why does the church come together?" This is a question that is not asked frequently enough, but when it is asked we know what the usual answer is: "worship." I suppose this is why so many larger churches have labeled the biggest room in their buildings the "worship center." (I wonder what happens in those places if anyone worships outside the "worship center"? Do they face church discipline?)

So, what is the point of the church coming together? When we throw off tradition and look to the bible, we see that mutual edification is the point of the gathering. For example, I Corinthians 14:26 says, "How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification."

However, we also know that everything the church does, including gatherings, should be for the glory of God. Paul writes in Ephesians 3:21, "To Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen."

So, does the church come together primarily for mutual edification or for God's glorification? The answer is "Yes."

When we come together as a church body, we should (according to Hebrews 10:24), "...consider one another in order to stir up love and good works." When we do this, we are building one another up. This is the essence of mutual edification.

As we mutually edify one another, God is glorified.

I believe the clearest passage dealing with this is I Peter 4:7-11. Peter discusses much "one-anothering" within the church body. We see that fervent love is the key motivator. We are to lovingly exercise our spiritual gifts for the edification of the church. When this occurs, God is glorified in Christ Jesus:

I Peter 4:7-11, "But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. And above all things have fervent love for one another, for 'love will cover a multitude of sins.' Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen."

So from now on when I'm asked why the church gathers together, I'm going to give a simple five word answer:

"God's Glorification Through Mutual Edification"

3 comments:

Bethany W. in mid-MO said...

Sounds good!

Aussie John said...

Eric,

Your words have given me a few reminiscing chuckles about my time in traditional pastoral ministry many years ago.

Convicted of the truths you articulate, I tried changing all kinds of things during the so-called "service". One such change was moving the pews so that people could see each others faces, and hopefully encouraging some mutuality.

On one such morning, an elderly woman, who was a daughter of one of the "founding fathers",on entering the building, saw the changed seating arrangement, exclaimed in the loudest of stage whispers, "Look what he's done to the church!"

It was she who had earlier scolded the children for, "laughing in church".

Eric said...

John,

Wow. It's amazing how some people hold so many things to be so important that actually matter nil as far as the Kingdom of God is concerned. Thanks for the reminder.