Summary: Four ways we can build one another up.
Building Others Up
Rev. Brian Bill
I recently drove to Indiana to pick Lydia up from college. I arrived early so I thought I would walk around on the campus until she got out of her class. After walking for awhile I leaned against a light pole and did some people watching. I observed some students scurrying quickly from building to building. A few were wolfing down some fast food. One girl was using a razor scooter to travel across campus. A lot of kids were laughing, no doubt because it was a Friday. Everyone seemed very diverse but I found one thing in common – almost every student had their cell phone out and was talking, texting or checking Facebook. I found myself secretly judging them from my sanctimonious perch under the light pole. I couldn’t believe that they were so tied to their technological devices. I was getting pretty worked up inside…until I looked down and saw that I had my phone out and during this whole time I had been checking messages and replying to texts myself.
It’s not easy to jettison our judgmental spirits, is it? We’ve been learning in this series how to disagree without being disagreeable, how to overcome a judgmental spirit, and how to deal with diversity. This is only possible when we realize that in “disputable matters,” our motto should be, “Not Wrong, Just Different.” One PBC member told me this week that he and his wife aren’t quite there yet but they are making some progress. Now they say, “Not wrong, just stupid!” I think I better extend this sermon series by a few more weeks! Today we come to the final verses of Romans 14 as we wrap up our series on a positive note by looking at four ways we can build others up. We’ll be walking through Romans 14:19-23 if you want to turn there.
1. Pursue harmony and be helpful. We see this in verse 19: “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” As we mentioned last week, that little word “therefore” comes up a lot in this chapter. When we let love limit our liberty and begin to care for others as Christ does, then we will pursue peace and look for ways to edify everyone we can. I love that Paul includes himself in this by using the word “us.” This shows that these words are for every one of us, me included.
The phrase “make every effort” means “to follow or press hard after or pursue with earnestness and diligence in order to obtain an objective…like a runner in a race exerting with every fiber within him to reach the goal.” That’s exactly what Andrew and Alanna are doing by getting some more training. They want to become better equipped so that they can have a platform to reach people when they return to the mission field. They are pressing hard after this goal. Pursuing peace is not always easy; it takes great effort to extinguish animosity. Oh, and it’s in the present tense which means we must go after this all the time, daily, minute-by-minute as a lifestyle. One paraphrase puts it like this: “So let’s agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other.”
The word “peace” means to “join or bind together that which has been separated.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said: “The followers of Jesus have been called to peace. When He called them they found their peace, for He is their peace. But now they are told that they must not only have peace but make it.” Jesus said in Matthew 5:9: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God.” I find it interesting that Jesus didn’t tell us to be “peacekeepers,” but instead “peacemakers.” This could be translated as “peace workers.” It takes effort to bring conflict to an end. When we work at resolving conflict we are doing what God does.
Friends, listen. We can’t be passive about peace; it must be pursued. Let me share some additional verses on the importance of going after peace.
* Ephesians 4:3: “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
* Psalm 34:14: “Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”
* Romans 12:18: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
* 2 Corinthians 13:11: “Finally, brothers, good-by. Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.”
The word “edification” is a construction term that was used to describe a building going up brick by brick or the process of making a structure stronger to improve its usefulness and extend its longevity. An example of the first is the new Law and Justice Center. An example of the second is the reinforcing and retrofitting that are being done to the building that houses WJEZ in Pontiac. Sometimes we need to build from the ground up and other times we’re called to come alongside someone in order to build them back up.