by Kevin Burton
What we used to call shop class is more grandly called Industrial Arts. Once again today we go back to your school days to look at the spiritual side of a class.
As inconvenient as physical blindness can be, spiritual blindness is much worse. It hides conditions that if ignored long enough can send one to eternal hell. We started this series of classes from a school for the spiritually blind because the stakes are so high.
So welcome to this seventh-period Industrial Arts class.
When it comes to shop class we think about building things. In Christian circles we use the term “edify” to describe the building up of fellow believers and the church as a whole. An edifice is a building. Edify is the same word in the form of a verb.
Good old Merriam Webster says to edify is “to instruct and improve especially in moral and religious knowledge,” and also “uplift, enlighten and inform.” I’ve always thought of to edify as to equip.
For the non-believer, getting a look at edification in action should be an encouragement to take a closer look at Christianity, as a relationship, not just a set of rules.
We have building codes, laws for which reinforcing materials must be built into new buildings for the safety of those who will work or live there. Edification makes for Christians with stronger foundations.
You read two earthquake stories, one from a county with building codes one from a place where they don’t exist or aren’t enforced. A quake at say 3.8 on the Richter scale will do significantly more damage if building safety has been ignored.
Human beings go through metaphorical storms and earthquakes or storm. How you stand up under that pressure is about the strength of your relationship with Jesus Christ. That can be helped through edification by fellow believers.
In the secular realm, you have encouragement. Edification is encouragement on steroids.
“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers,” wrote the apostle Paul in Eph. 4:29 (KJV).
For a deeper look into edification and Paul’s use of the word in the New Testament, we get some help from the website www.gotquestions.org.
“The word used for ‘edification’ in the New Testament is oikodomé, which translates literally as ‘the building of a house,”’ the website reads. The word appears in Paul’s letters about 20 times.
“According to Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, the word indicates the promotion of ‘spiritual growth and development of character of believers, by teaching or by example, suggesting such spiritual progress as the result of patient labor.’”
“Edification is more than just encouragement; it includes any activity that results in more Christlikeness, either in oneself or in another believer,” the website reads. Edification may be individual or corporate. Individually, one can edify oneself by participating in the various spiritual disciplines, such as Bible study and prayer.”
“Generally, however, the concept of edification in the New Testament is applied to the corporate body,” the website reads. In the secular realm we use the term morale to measure corporate edification.
“Mutual edification involves helping one another along the road to Christlikeness, and it requires the participation of all members of the church,” the website reads. “Teaching and preaching improve our understanding of God; encouragement promotes conduct that develops Christlike character.”
“When we exhort one another and hold one another accountable, we are prompted to engage in activities that promote godliness,” the website reads. “Accountability means we lovingly check each other’s spiritual progress. Christlike service ensures that the needs of the church are met, and true fellowship is the interaction we have with each other on a deeper spiritual level.”
“The corporate nature of edification cannot be overemphasized,” the website reads. “Without mutual edification, the church becomes a collection of spiritual weaklings, a perpetual nursery for spiritual infants, rather than a body (1 Cor. 12:27) or a building (Eph. 2:20-22).”
Class Notes, seventh period, Industrial Arts: We left shop class with a physical product meant to add value to our physical life. In a healthy church, the process of edification, or building up, brings members closer to God and equips them to serve Him and to withstand life’s storms.
One for the spiritual road: “We are to be equipped as God’s people, to do his work, to be mature and to grow up,” reads a passage on edification on www.harvest.org. “We are to become more and more in every way like Jesus. If you attend church with that objective, then you can be transformed. But if you come with the intent to simply go through the motions, they you will get very little out of it.”