Why do we see “going to church” as being a holy, pious act but spending time with others as just “being neighborly”?
I have really enjoyed Alan Knox’s series on edification. It goes way beyond what we normally think of when we talk about edification in the church, which normally is a one-way exercise where one person edifies the rest. It is also a lot more than merely knowledge transference. What I really appreciated was that Alan recognizes the importance of edification in everyday life, finding meaning in the mundane.
Where does God work? Sometimes God worked in miraculous, massive (unscripted I might add) events like Pentecost. More often in Scripture we see encounters along the road, in homes over meals, in ordinary, everyday situations. We have so overemphasized the once a week meeting of the church that we expect too much from it and fail to see the value of the more mundane times we gather. Unless we have the accompaniment of people in their Sunday best and a couple of hymns being sung, we have a hard time seeing God at work in the midst of His people.
As I look back, many of the most profound things about God I have learned have not come in a formal setting. They came in conversations with my wife or my friends. They came in homes and over coffee. This is where time spent together is invaluable. Living lives together as the family of God is not only one of the ways we are edified, it might just be the main way we are edified.
I will admit we (my family) are not great at this right now. We rarely get together with other believers outside of scheduled times. It is easy for us to chalk that up to the reality of having eight kids at home but the truth is that we could and should do more to spend time with other Christians. We did when we lived in northern Michigan because we knew more people and took the time to get to know them. Having moved twice in the last two years has made it harder to get to know other people but we need to make that a priority in our lives this year. My wife needs the company of other sisters in Christ and I certainly need the company and counsel of other godly brothers. So if I have a resolution for this new year, it is to spend more time with the family of God. Not by spending more time “at church” but by inviting others into our lives so that we can edify them and be edified by them. As long as we depend on the formal gathering of the church for our edification, we will continue to be incomplete Christians.