Go Deeper with Andy B, who talks about ‘the warm up’ in relation to church and that uncommonly used word “edification”.
He looks at the idea of going to church, not to be served and to ‘consume’, but to edify fellow Believers, just as it says in our Scripture, 1 Corinthians 14:26.
We wouldn’t go the gym and expect to get fit by spectating. In the same way, we shouldn’t got to church and simply be consumers – we’re called to edify one another, and that’s means arriving at church, ready to worship and get involved in what is going on; as active participants - church is not meant to be a social club, after all!
So today, GoDeeper, and we're looking at the warm up.
Erm, I'm going to jump straight to scripture this morning as we start, this evening, this afternoon - depending on when you're joining us!
And it's 1 Corinthians, chapter 14, verse 26.
"What Then, brothers - 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."
And I would definitely recommend going off, reading the whole of 1 Corinthians 14: there's lots of really, really good stuff in there; get it into context.
But we're looking at this part. Now, in my Bible it's labelled "Orderly Worship" and it's talking about how, when we come to church, there are certain principles.
In the current climate, one of the things that really strikes me about the state of the church worldwide, and I just had a great chat with with a pastor from Nigeria about stuff that's touching on some of these things. But I can say that Nigeria is the same as the UK and it's the same as the US: church has become about consumerism - what we're going to get from what we do, when we go to church; what we're going to get from church, what are they gonna to do for us, for me?
And what we read in this `Corinthians 14 verse 26, piece of Scripture, is it throws all that completely on its head, because we don't go to church to receive. That's not what church is about.
When we're going to church we're supposed to go to do something. And that doing part is worshipping God, and edifying each other. Now edification is a word you not likely to hear very often. But edification means the mutual lifting up, encouragement, of one another.
That's a really important function of going to church.
When I was, erm, studying to be a Trading Standards Officer many many years ago (I didn't finish the training) but I learnt one really important piece of information: there are consumers and their customers.
Now a customer is the person that goes out and thinks, OK, I need to buy a washing machine. What washing machines are there available to me? I will go and I'll buy that particular washing machine.
The consumer is the person that ends up using that washing machine, so the customer and the consumer might be the same person.
But think about a Birthday gift or a Christmas gift. When you give that to somebody else, you've purchased it. You're the customer.
When you give it to somebody else - for them to use - they're not the customer anymore. Now they're the consumer.
And one of the issues that I think we've got in our worldwide church, is, we've become consumers of the gospel, rather than customers. And customers are supposed to be involved in the process of purchasing something, and that's the bit that really strikes me.
And the other one is, which I think it's quite a good analogy, which I thought up was this: churches are often labelled as social clubs. Maybe unfairly, I think quite righteously quite a lot of the time a lot of churches - it's not about identification of each other, or worship of God, it's I go to church and I feel better about things.
Well, that's a useful part of being in a church family, but it's not supposed to be the purpose that we fulfil on a Sunday morning.
But if you're gonna go to the gym, 'cos you wanna do weight training, then what you do is you go to the gym, and what you don't do is stand and watch everybody doing weight training - 'cos you're not going to do any weight training watching others doing it.
You get those muscles built on you by actually doing the weight training.
If you want to go to the gym and you want to general workout, and you've got some running, and you do a bit on the rowing machine, and a bit of weights, and a bit of this, and a bit of that: you're not going to do any of those, sitting in a chair, at the reception desk watching everybody else doing it.
And church is exactly the same - we're not supposed to go to church, sit at the reception, and watch everyone else 'doing' church. That's not the purpose of church.
And when you read one Corinthians 14:26, it puts the responsibility squarely on you, and me, to be involved in what's going on in Church.
And you'll say 'Andy, yes, but my church won't let me be involved. I've gotta be there for so many months, and weeks - and I'm not allowed to get involved.'
Well that's quite a sensible thing for a lot of churches; it protects in some ways.
But here's the thing. If you find yourself in a church context where you're never allowed to be involved, then there's a good chance that church isn't necessarily right for you, unless perhaps the Pastor of the church, and leaders, and whatever, said ' do you know what we just want you to come and worship with us for a little time.'
That's a little different. That's about coming under authority. Very important.
But if you're in that church for a number of years, you should be involved. That's what 1 Corinthians 14:26 says "When you come together, each one", not some, not group. "each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up" and that's what church is about.
And when you're thinking about going to your gym - you're thinking about doing stuff - what's the warm up gotta to do with that and churches? Well, you don't dive onto the rowing machine, and go absolutely hell for leather, pulling the thing, coz you're going to pull something in yourself and you're gonna to damage something.
So when we arrive at the church building, rather than being consumers who just arrive to receive, we're supposed to be customers, we're supposed to be a part of that whole process. But we're also supposed to be ready when we get there.
As a dad, with small kids, I can remember very well, sometimes you arrive at church and you're not even sure you've actually arrived, even though you're sitting in a pew at the back of the church: you've had a bit of a rough morning; you've had to change some nappies; you've had an argument in the car - all these things come in the way of you getting to church.
If that's every week, you've got a bigger problem, because that isn't, actually, how it's supposed to be. We're supposed to arrive for orderly worship, and you don't have orderly worship unless you arrive in an orderly way.
That isn't to say that we should stop the movement of the Holy Spirit. It doesn't mean to say that if you can't get there in a good way, every week, that there's something wrong with you. What it's saying is, this is the standard that we should be aiming for; that we shouldn't be settling for having an argument on the way to Church. If we're doing that, well we're not edifying each other in the car - that still worship, that still part of church.
Genesis Chapter 1, verse 27. Let's just flick to that. If you're thinking, well, I don't know what to do in a church, what can I possibly bring to a church service - I'm 84, I'm 32, I'm only 7, what can I do? I'm not allow....
Let's go back to what God's says!
Genesis chapter 1 verses 27, verse 27.
"So God created man in His own image. In the image of God, He created him. Male and female, He created them."
And this is verse 27, so we've got 26 proceeding verses all about God creating the world. Look around you.
Look out the window.
Look at what's going on about you and you'll see a world that's got some amazing stuff going on.
That creativity - the fact the solar system functions; the fact that we've got a hydrological cycle - that water is dirty, and it's taken up into the clouds and it falls again. The Bible talks about it in the Psalms, way before scientists even knew it existed: God told us what happened. It's all there in black and white for you to read. I'm not going to quote it now.
But all that stuff is amazing!
Look at animals. How creative that our God was in all these different animals that He hand designed. He hand, er, He spoke into being.
And we are far more important than animals. If you don't believe that, go back to the scripture.
We're far more important than the animals!
We're made in God's image!
So I always say, if you want to hear the, if you want to hear God's voice, ask someone to read the Bible to you - you're hearing God's voice! 'Cos we're made in His image: not to be used without caution!.
Er, but if you wanna to hear God's voice, listen to somebody else reading the scripture, because we've got a part of us that looks like God. So when we hear someone else reading scripture, we're hearing something of what God sounds like - because you are beautifully and wonderfully made!
But Genesis Chapter 1 reminds us that we're not just randomly made. Actually, if you're thinking, well what can I bring to a church service - God says you are made in His image. I am made in his image.
Therefore if we are made in His image, we've already got all the things we need to bring something to that Church Fellowship, Church, Family.
We joke as a family about the F word and the C word.
The C word is Church in the F word is Fellowship, because we get a bit of a shiver - "ooh the fellowship."
But do you know what? We need to fellowship!
If we're not in a church that's okay - we don't have to go to church. The Bible doesn't actually ever say that. What it says is don't stop meeting together: churches are brilliant places to do that - don't just suddenly stop going to church.
But we haven't got to be in a church to fellowship.
Erm, I've known plenty of shift workers who can't go to church because the church they live near only has a Sunday morning service; they work on a Sunday morning; they never go to church.
They're not going to suddenly stop being a Christian, and the wise people like that will find another way of worshipping, and with other people.
Church - this is what I've written down: church is the same as a gym, as a social club, if we're just 'watching', not 'doing'.
People often criticise the Church of being a social club, and the sad thing is - those criticisms are actually, usually, very accurate: we turn up to church; qe want a nice comfy chair; we don't want to be challenged by the pastor when he's preaching; we just want to go there and have a nice time.
But here's the thing - we're not supposed to go to church to be comfortable. It's good to have comfy chairs and a nice warm building - fine. It's a different sort of comfort!
But we're not supposed to go to church to feel comfortable in our hearts, and our souls that we're all good now. 'Ooh Yes, I feel good now!'
Do you know what? When you get closer to God, you realise how far away from God you are. And the fact that you're near that, and you can sense that, and feel that is because Jesus has already bridged that gap.
We'll never get near enough to God, without Jesus.
So what we talking about today? It's the warm up.
1 Corinthians 14:26 - go and read the whole passage. Some of it might be a bit uncomfortable, or unfamiliar. A lot of churches will back away from those things: it's in God's word therefore, if God said it, it's useful for teaching and rebuking, and all that kind of good stuff.
Warm up - don't just arrive at a church, sit down and think right - feed me now: that's not what church is about.
Whether your church is a big building, whether it's a home group, whether it's a collection of people in a field with your walking, and having that fellowship - don't just turn up with nothing, expect to hear from God, and expect to speak God's love into other people.
Let's just go back to one Corinthians 14:26. What is it we're called to do on a Sunday?
We don't just want warm up in the church building.
I'll tell you this as a worship leader of more than three decades. You know when you're in a church, and it feels like you're staring treacle - because nobody was ready when they arrived. I've been in other churches when as soon as you start that music, people are there. They're ready to worship. Why? Because they've warmed up before they arrive. Half an hour of worship sometimes is not enough to get the congregation going. Sometimes you need 2 minutes.
1 Corinthians 1426.
"What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue or interpretation. Let all things be done for building up."
Let's warm up before we get to church; let's not be consumers!
COVID, particularly difficult; we've been sitting looking at a screen; we're not allow, supposed to be allowed to sing in churches, depending on where you are in the world.
Let's not be consumers of the gospel. Let's be people who are actually, actively, engaged in that Christ filled message.
And let's do everything we do, not just to consume it, but actually we're supposed to give it back out again.
So let's make sure that whatever we're doing in life, that we're going through - not just consuming God - but being a part of His Kingdom on Earth.
And let's do it for the good of His church.
Let's do it for each other.
And whatever we do, let's do it to build up each other, to become more like Jesus.
Written by Andy B