Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Church's Unsung Heroes: Pressure

This blog series is intended to speak to certain aspects of God's Church that are often suppressed, avoided, ignored, or rejected. The interesting thing about these topics is that they have a couple of twists: they're actually good things and doing away with them causes harm. I hope we all can take an honest look at the subjects presented and learn more about ourselves along with Christ's design for His people. 

Have you ever felt like you were under pressure

Sorry, couldn't resist. 

Of course we have all felt like we were under pressure at some point in our lives. 

One of my favorite memories of my basketball-playing years growing up was the shot I took in the final seconds of the tournament championship against my team's biggest rival my eighth grade year.

After getting down 12-0 at the start of the game, our team battled our way back to tie the game at 47 with just a few seconds left on the clock. It was our ball to inbound at half-court coming out of the timeout. The ball was thrown in to our point guard near the top of the key, he looked for the open man down low and didn't see him. He turned to his left and saw me standing about 18 feet away from the basket (I much preferred the outside game). 

I got the ball and quickly released a shot toward the hoop. The buzzer sounded as the ball was in mid-air, and then...swish! Our team had won the championship game and rode off happily into the sunset.

Unfortunately, though there are still times when I'm placed under pressure, not all of the shots I take in life work out so well. But I still take them.

Pressure is a funny word. Paul called it "epistasis." Martin Luther called it "dass ich werde angelaufen." No, really, he did.

The word in Greek literally means "pressure, burden; stirring up, attack," and it comes from the root word (histemi) "to stand." 

In 2 Corinthians 11, Paul is listing off all of the things he has suffered for Christ. He has been beaten, shipwrecked, hungry, thirsty, lost, and the like. He has experienced several external and internal troubles because of his devotion to Jesus. Then, in verse 28, he says:

"And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches." (ESV)

Apart from everything else that was making his God-given mission difficult, Paul said that he had the daily pressure of anxiety for the churches.

Part of Paul's life lived for Christ included pressure. He had a sense of urgency about him. He earnestly desired to see the churches he had been involved with grow and be godly. He had a deep care and concern which made him uneasy. 

The word for "anxiety" refers to a division of a person's inner being, fractured insides, a broken heart. Paul felt the pressure through a heart that was completely attentive to God's Church. He had a very specific care and watchfulness toward his brothers and sisters. 

So what does this have to do with Christians today?

Well, just as the clock was ticking away in my basketball game, putting our team under an enormous pressure to win, so is the clock of the earth. The tick-tock of any given person's heart can stop in an instant. The world is dying, churches are straying, and those of us who believe the Word have the answers. 

Do you feel pressure?

If you don't feel pressured to do something about all of the maliciousness, back-biting, hatred, misplaced identity, false teaching, dormancy, and apathy around you, something is wrong. 

Every single day Paul felt pressure to strengthen the churches and to share the gospel with those around him (1 Cor 9:22). Our desire should be the same!

All too often we get comfortable. We get settled in our churches, the music is nice, the seats are soft, the A/C always works. Before long, we forget that the watch God has wound is losing steam and the end is near (1 Pet 4:7).

It is our duty as Christians and gospel-bearers to tell others about Christ, build up the Church, and do the same thing the next day. Notice that Paul said "daily" in reference to his pressure. He did not get a "camp high," as we sometimes do, that faded. He did not separate his work life/family life/friend life from his concerns. Paul was put under the gun each day because he cared and he knew that time is continually running out.

Do we care?

We have to take a shot.

Let us be actively concerned for the Church, let's tell the world about Christ. Don't buy the lie that we are supposed to kick back, take it easy, and wait for retirement. Our mission involves action and we will only act once we care.

God bless you today!

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