Monday, February 06, 2012

Let All Things Be Done Unto Edifying

I have been thinking again lately about the content of vocal ministry. I have mentioned before that one of the things I really love about my visits to North Carolina Yearly Meeting Conservative is that much of the ministry and conversation centers around our faithfulness to God. Are we listening? Are we allowing ourselves to be led? Are we obeying the inward Guide, or are we resisting it?

One of the verses in the bible that I consider key to our worship is 1 Corinthians 14:26:

What should be done then, my friends? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. (NRSV)

In the King James Version, the last sentence is "Let all things be done unto edifying." The idea of edification is all over the writings of early Friends. It is very common for worship, or opportunities, or the influence of the Light upon the soul to be referred to as edifying. In a similar way, Friends were often encouraged to exhort one another, following the advice from Hebrews to "exhort one another daily." Alexander Parker, in a 1660 letter from prison writes, in part:

Dear hearts, in brotherly love and heavenly fear, I do exhort you all, as dear children, to walk together in truth and love; exhorting one another, and building up one another in the holy faith, which works by love;

What has been on my mind lately is how often vocal ministry seems to be about things like the nature of God or other more theological subjects (perhaps those who are bombarded by politics and summaries of NPR would ask "What are you complaining about?")

When I hear Friends talk about Quakerism, I often find that our supposedly creedless faith is described in terms of what we believe ("we believe there is that of God..", "we believe in equality, simplicity, etc."). It seems like many Quaker Quest sessions also present our faith tradition in terms of its beliefs or ideas. The rejection of creeds wasn't about not believing in anything, but was a witness that Quakerism was about our direct encounter with the Spirit and how it changes us, teaches us, and guides us. Faith is a matter of trusting in that Spirit, not about believing in particular doctrines. I think Friends often grasp this idea with respect to other faith traditions, but don't notice when they do the same thing.

Why does it seem rare to hear people speak about listening, obeying, welcoming the Light? Why aren't we exhorting others to faithfulness? I think we all need that from time to time. It isn't that I think we should resolve ourselves to deliver specific messages, but I feel that if faithfulness is in the forefront of our mind - both individually and as a meeting, that we may perceive messages differently, perhaps finding different ways to express what has been laid on our hearts.


At 6:25 AM, Blogger Raye said...

So many times of late, I hear an inward question: is this edifying? Does it build up the Body of Christ?

Thanks for the confirmation.

At 4:15 PM, Blogger David Carl said...

Nicely put.

At 12:08 PM, Blogger Stephen Daniel Lintner said...

Greetings to you, sharer of divine substance and messages!
The Question of edification sits at the core of Christ's sweetness. Who would want to follow a 'joy-less' friend, who has no extra Joy to share, and too much 'weight' to share thier substance, and 'increase a friend'?
I have just come upon your blog through the out-loud reading of the 'Friendly Mama' blog by a friend.
Reading 'wisdom expression' aloud with loved ones in the faith is truly edifying..
(strengthening, increasing, fortifying, making stronger, 'refreshing' even..)

Now that we are no longer restricted to our 'local voices' and 'local elder' research, we have a new and strange responsibility to share those things that strengthen our brief lives and those of others.

For example, reading George Fox's book of Miracles is shocking and 'instructive,' How many years have Friends been able to 'avoid the greatest gifts' because of controversy and discomfort?
The 'edifying' of the body of Christ has quite a bit to do with 'refreshing peoples.' This is done handily and most effectively in the same way as George Fox.
An unmistakably supernatural 'PRESENCE' of The HolySpirit of haShem Yeshua goes pretty far as 'the MORTAR of Gods 'specific' love' for a 'specific' brick' to be held with excellence! (repointing always welcome!)
This 'edifying' is not just for those who 'claim friendship with God-Spirit' but also those 'bricks' who had 'cared less' to be built into a spiritual house. These new bricks are a very essential part of this 'edifice'.
They who tend to challenge, afflict and try the souls of the 'comfortable' are desperately needed as a part of 'overall edification'.
George Fox's book of miracles, and perusal of Eusebius and the lives of those jailed and slaughtered who stand in 'blessing alone' and no retalliation except for 'escape' can bring a response of 'this is a bit much', (common) which amounts to a 'refusal' to 'edify self AND the body'
Our lives are too damned short to play games with pleasantries. (the third 'weed' spoken of in the parable of the Sower) Our eternal souls cannot affort to make nice 'spiritual short-cuts' with the 'hard teachings'. The lives of those around me are at stake.
The discovery of the teaching of 'The Two Kingdoms' is very big in my life.
You have truly been a wonderful discovery in my recent life. I am quite hungry to read all you have written, and expect i will be sharing out what you have placed on the table before us all. FOR EDIFICATION! YAAAY! Thanks.
-IN THE love from above'Stephen-DAVID'

PS..! heres a link to a favorite 'clean teaching' on the 'two ways' from a 'non retalliation' 'early church' perspective.
and one on 'The Myth of 'Christian' America'. The man who has 'edited' all of this research is a former 'title lawyer' a man of documents, who needed to find 'true way' in the mess of Christianity. He has a keen desire to quickly and effectively assist and edify those who care to 'edify themselves'.
A true friend in the faith, with a real minimum of 'personal agenda'.

At 9:33 AM, Blogger Orchid Tobacco said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 12:30 AM, Anonymous said...

I loved your article! I like the way you express your mind! Of course, these are really important questions: "Are we listening? Are we allowing ourselves to be led? Are we obeying the inward Guide, or are we resisting it?". I think, that the biggest problem is, that everyone is trying to explain God's messages as he thinks it would be right:) From here we have a lot of misunderstandings.


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