This morning after I came back from the school run I set down to have a quiet time and I decided to listen to a sermon from John Piper a friend recommended. I am so glad I did. I was both encouraged and challenged.
The title of his sermon was “He Stood by Me and Strengthened Me for the Sake of the Gospel” based on 2 Timothy 4:9-22. Paul is at the end of his life and ministry and he is writing to encourage Timothy and prepare him for what ministry holds.
These verses caught my attention:
“Do your best to come to me quickly, for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia.” 2 Timothy 4:9-10
Paul had been deserted by one of his fellow Christians and team member. Unfortunately this is far too common in many churches these days. I know we have all heard stories, sad stories told of those who have abandoned the Gospel and sometimes we don’t really know why. In this verse Paul is telling us exactly what happened: “for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica.”
Loving this world makes it impossible to follow what Jesus has designed for us as Christians. The world is ignoring, denying, diminishing God and distorting the image of our Saviour Jesus Christ. What the world sells us all the time is that we should be in the centre of our own universe and there is no place for God in it. A life with Christ means having Him in the centre. Recongnizing His lordship over us and letting Him direct our paths. We simply cannot do that if we love the world.
Demas was working closely with the great apostle Paul and he could not take it. He left the ministry. We do not know if he ever returned but he chose to love the world instead of loving and following Jesus. At this point we might think: I am ok then! I am not part of a church ministry, or a youth group teaching team or Sunday school or anything like that! Phew! God has placed us in many different places and has given each one of us a very important ministry: share the Gospel with every person we know.
If we are married we have been given the amazing, very hard task, to be a helper and support to our husbands. If we have children, then our ministry is to help them grow in God’s way, teaching them to Love Him. If we are single, we have friends and family we need to love and care for. Whether we stay at home or go out to work, we meet people we need to encourage to walk closer to God or share the whole plan of Salvation with. You see, we are not off the hook! No matter where we are, we are to be witnessing about the Gospel, showing people who Jesus is and what He has to offer them!
Are we deserters in the making? Are we letting the world seduce us? Where do we stand? Although the verses above don’t give us any details of how long it took for Demas to get to the point where he left, I can imagine that it was a slow process. That is a great danger. Loving the world starts really small and slowly it takes hold of our hearts. We might find ourselves nodding to views that are contrary to the Bible, or taking part in activities that do not portray the life of a Christian. Do we find ourselves disagreeing with the truths God teaches in His word? Were are we setting our hearts?
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated ar the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Colossians 3:1-2
May our gracious God help us focus our hearts and minds on Him for the honour and glory of His name!