There are some practical examples that only apply to certain groups, but I feel like this is one that everyone can recognize: Legos. Just about everyone I know has played with and built with Legos at some point before (or something similar; I’m not knocking any Lincoln Logs or K’nex users out there). Being a nerd, I remember having several Star Wars Lego sets when I was younger. There was one year when, the day after Christmas, my little brother and I spent an entire afternoon just building the different Star Wars Lego sets that we had gotten. Going back one generation, my mom and dad both have told me about having a big box of Legos with no instructions or models, only their own imaginations, to guide them. Nearly everyone probably remembers doing something along these lines in their childhood, which reminds me of two things. One, we are a blessed people. Two, we are not all that different, after all. Those are probably two different articles for different days, though.
So what was the point of having Legos? Obviously, you’re not just going to sit there with a box full of little pieces and let them gather dust. The point of Legos is to build! Whether you follow instructions or not, Legos are made to be built with. There is no point in having a bunch of buildable parts if nothing is ever built with them. Now, there were some understood rules about the process. For one thing, you had to have a good starting point, because without one, whatever you were building would not last long. For another, your building had to be sensible. A one-peg piece was not going to connect two gigantic sixteen-peg ones. When building with Legos, you had to have a solid foundation and pieces that worked together to make something solid.
The Bible uses the metaphor of building quite a bit. Perhaps one of the most famous examples is found in Matthew 7:24-27, when Jesus finishes the Sermon on the Mount with what is often called the “Parable of the Two Builders.” (A song based on this parable is probably another thing many of us have in common.) In that instance, Jesus compares those who hear and follow His words with a man who built his house upon the rock and whose house stood firm through the storm. He then says that those who fail to follow Him are comparable to a man whose house was built upon the sand and was unable to withstand the storm. The obvious lesson to be learned here is that Jesus should be the foundation of our lives, the one Who we go to and receive grace and strength from in time of need. Indeed, this idea is conveyed in the words of Hebrews 4:14-16: “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” It is only through Jesus, through a loving and faithful relationship with Him, and through communication with Him in the Scriptures and prayer, that our lives may be blessed with grace and with the strength that allows us to work for Him.
The Bible talks about more than just the foundation of our building, though. Paul, through the Spirit’s inspiration, talked of the brethren being a “holy temple in the Lord” and “a dwelling place of God in the Spirit” at the end of Ephesians 2. In being parts of that building, Paul also advises us that we must work together to achieve a solid structure. In 1 Corinthians 14, while talking to the Corinthian church about the diversity of spiritual gifts, he makes it clear that edification is to be sought amongst the brethren. In verse 5 he writes, “I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification.” Just a few verses prior, in 1 Corinthians 13:13, he had urged the same people to abide in faith, hope and, above all, love. In reading this and similar passages, a beautiful picture is painted regarding the brotherhood of Christ. Our mission is to get to heaven together and to bring as many people with us, and the only way to do that is through love, friendship, and edification throughout the church. The segments of the building must work together and be founded in the same mold in order for the whole to be effective.
There is no building in the world more important than the building of the church. I am not talking about the physical structures in which we meet and worship together, though these are a great blessing. I am talking about the temple of the holy God that Jesus died to found, that is built upon Him as the “chief cornerstone, elect, and precious” (1 Peter 2:6), and that is composed of members who have great potential to be effective in the work of the Lord through edification and the love of the Spirit. Being founded upon Christ, let us always strive to build each other up in the faith!
“Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.” – Romans 14:19