“Edification” in the sense the Bible is talking about means to “build another Christian up in Christ.” The picture is literally the idea of contributing to a construction project so that a building can be completed. The word “edifice” is found in the word “edification.” We are the Church. And we are the Church because Christ made us part of His Church. And it is His Church. But if we are not careful, rather than edifying, we can easily become a demolition crew.
If we read Romans 14-15 carefully, we learn that personal freedoms and preferences concerning Christianity are “allowed” but not always beneficial. If the exercising of my personal preferences in Christ leads to the destruction of weak or young Christians, then I am not acting in love.
There are many opinions and disagreements over how a church should function. But most of the controversy is not over doctrinal issues. Most of the controversy is usually over preferences. We begin to assume that our personal preferences are the “best” way for everyone, but this may not be the case. As Ben Merold says, “If I go to a worship service and I like everything about the worship service, then it wasn’t a good worship service.” In other words, it’s not about me and my personal preferences. It’s all about what is best for the whole church. It’s about what is best for evangelism. It’s about what is best for missions. It’s about what is best for all of the Kingdom of God. So we need to keep in mind that my way may not be the best way. At every stage of the Church’s history since Pentecost, a good section of the Church has had difficulty with change. When God told the Church that gentiles could be saved without first following all of the rituals of the Law of Moses, many Jews had difficulty accepting the change. God taught Peter a valuable lesson, but even Peter later, under pressure, reverted to his earlier position that circumcision must be necessary for gentiles to be saved. Paul had to challenge the entire leadership of the church before people would accept what God was trying to do. In fact, a group of “Judaizers” followed Paul’s activity and would later come to newly established churches and tell them that Paul forgot to tell them about circumcision: You have to become a Jew before you can fully be saved in Christ. The book of Galatians addressed this very issue. But this was not the first, nor the last time that the Church struggled with change. But sometimes change is required to bring life. Sometimes change is necessary to help those who don’t understand the Gospel to see it more clearly. Bible translators look for words in language that convey the idea of the Word of God in the present culture. Missionaries use illustrations from everyday symbols and culture to convey the truths of the Gospel. Jesus Himself did this, but it wasn’t always met with the best reception.
Jesus prayed for us to be one, as He and the Father are One. He also challenged us to love one another… that the world might know that we are His disciples. This sometimes requires patience with one another. I, as a Christian, should not allow my personal freedoms to destroy the faith of young Christians. It is a frightening thing to me that my choices, my preferences, if I defend them and forget love, could actually lead to the spiritual death of a young Christian. We need to be careful. We need to pray for one another. The burden falls on “strong” Christians. The challenge is to bear with the struggles of the “weak.” The weak have no right to condemn what the strong prefer, but the strong should likewise not condemn the weak who still have a lot of growing to do. Our goal for everyone is the mutual building up of all Christians.
I ask you for patience because change is always difficult for everyone. And Kouts Christian Church needs to make a lot of changes if we hope to become the evangelistic church we hope to be that will attract people of all ages, but especially young families. This is the calling that you and God have given me. And though we belong to the Kingdom of God, we all must forsake being self-centered and seek to become Christ-centered. What would a Perfect King expect from us if this is His Kingdom? You hate the style of music I like and don’t get anything out of it (but others do). I hate the style of music you like and I don’t get anything out of it (but others do). But we love each other, don’t we? We have committed to mutual love and edification so that we can build one another up and the world will see our Savior and believe in Him. So, I will sing your music with a worshipful heart. I will sing in the genre that you prefer and commit myself to like it… even LOVE it, because I love you. Would you be willing to do the same? Can we send a united Message to the world that we love one another? Can we help and build one another up in the process?
As your leader, my goal is not to take your music away from you. My goal is also not to force my music on you. But I certainly believe that our goal must be unity, evangelism and serving our community for the glory of God. Our focus cannot be on ourselves. Our focus must be on Jesus Christ and the lost. Are you willing to change for that? Then please, with all of my heart, I ask you, be patient and pray for us all.
Love in Jesus,