There’s a lot of pressure coming at us every day.
Pressure to be a certain weight. Pressure to be a certain height. Pressure to have a certain face. Pressure to wear the right clothes. Pressure to drive the right car. Pressure to look like money is easy. Pressure to never lose your cool. Pressure to smile. Pressure to not offend. Pressure to think a certain way. Pressure to act a certain way. Pressure to stand up. Pressure to sit down. Pressure to speak up. Pressure to be silent.
I’ll say it again: there’s a lot of pressure coming at us every day.
As Christians, what matters most is our witness to the world of the life-changing power of Jesus. This doesn’t mean our ability to stand on street corners and preach to the masses as they pass us. This means the quiet way we live our lives before others.
When the Apostle Paul is writing the letter to the Philippian Christians, he didn’t have a whole lot going for him. Yet, he encourages them and us to pay attention to the pressure that matters.
He writes in Philippians 2:1-2:
1 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.
Philippians 2:1-2, NIV
The key here to understand where he’s going with this is at the end of verse 2: “being one in spirit and of one mind”. Paul is talking about unity. Unity in the church is the difference between making a difference and making a noise.
What do I mean?
Those around you who are at various levels of resisting Jesus’ call to follow Him are constantly, although mostly subconsciously, evaluating the effects of Christianity based on our lives. In a larger sense, they are evaluating the effects of Christianity based on how groups of us behave.
These groups of Christians are often called “churches”.
In our churches, we tout the power of the Gospel to transform people. We have beautiful, Scriptural metaphors about moving from darkness to light, being lost and then found, being changed from the inside out.
But sadly, a lot of us stop at lip service. And our world suffers for it. They see our lack of transformation that perhaps this “Jesus thing” isn’t all we’re claiming it is. After all, if it doesn’t transform us who are actively a part of it, how would it be able to change them?
If disciples of Jesus cannot live in unity, the transformative power of the gospel comes into question. As a result, the gospel message loses credibility among unbelievers.
Our incentive to live in harmony with each other is no less than the testimony of the power of Jesus to transform broken people.
Imagine being part of a church truly living in loving harmony with each other. Imagine a unity of direction, mission, values, and purpose. Imagine your friends and family not being able to say “that” about your church.
This is what Paul is encouraging us to do. So today—right now—remember the right pressure. Remember the pressure that is the difference between life and death for our friends and family members who are not Jesus-followers yet.
For the Gospel to transform them it must first transform us. That’s the pressure that matters.