Imagine for a minute that it’s 4023. Jesus hasn’t come back yet. Life on earth continues.
And people are still talking about you.
Now let’s be honest. That’s pretty unlikely. If I asked you to tell me the name of your great, great Grandmother, you’d likely give me a blank stare. And if you knew her name, you probably don’t know much else about her. It’s the rare person whose name and reputation last longer than a few generations.
But let’s say for a moment that people are still talking about you 2,000 years from today. What would you hope they would be saying about you?
For whatever reason this week, I’ve had Demas on my mind. He’s one of the obscure characters whose name is found in the New Testament. When Paul wrote to the Colossians, he included a greeting from Luke and Demas. He is also mentioned in the letter to Philemon as a co-worker with Paul.
But it is in Paul’s final New Testament letter – his second letter to Timothy – where Paul gives us a sad report about Demas. Apparently, after years of traveling with Paul and helping to plant churches, Demas deconstructed. He walked away from the faith he had professed.
“Demas,” Paul says, “in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica” (2 Timothy 4:10).
What a tragic legacy. The last word on Demas is that he valued what the world offers more than what Jesus offered. Apparently, the sight of Paul in prison awaiting his execution was enough for Demas to say “I’m out.”
Let me clarify. I used the word deconstructed to describe Demas. That’s a word that is used in our day to describe anyone who grew up in an evangelical church and who now renounces their evangelical heritage or beliefs. Some continue to profess faith in Jesus, but their beliefs and values no longer align with what they believed or were taught when they were younger. Others have rejected Christianity altogether.
Deconstructing our faith can be a healthy and purifying exercise, if our goal is to strip away from our beliefs any traditions or tenets that do not conform with what the scriptures teach, the process of deconstructing our faith can actually be incredibly healthy. That’s what Martin Luther did. What was left when he was finished with his deconstruction project was a recovery of the biblical gospel.
Many modern day deconstructors have ended up not with a purified gospel, but with a wholesale rejection their evangelical heritage. And they’ve deconstructed for any number of reasons. It would be unfair to capriciously assign to them the same motivation as Demas.
But the Demas motivation is alive and well in our day, just as it has been in every era of human history. Since the beginning of human history, the lure of what the present world offers has been the exit ramp that has led them off the narrow road.
We’re not told what it was about the world that Demas loved. It may have been having the approval of the cultural elite in his day. It may have been a desire for material gain. Maybe he simply wanted to avoid persecution and prison. Whatever his specific motivation, Demas found something that mattered more to him than staying on the path as a follower of Jesus. When the going got tough, Demas got going.
The Apostle John has a warning for all of us to stay alert to the destructive lure of the world. “Do not love the world or the things in the world,” he wrote. “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15–17).
In John Bunyan’s classic Pilgrims Progress, Pilgrim has to pass through the town of Vanity Fair on his way to the Celestial City. In his notes on Bunyan’s allegory, Ken Puls says “Vanity Fair represents all the world has to offer us, which, apart from Christ, amounts to nothing in the end. Vanity Fair is Satan’s attempt to distract and hinder us from following after Christ. It is his ploy to lure us into grasping at things that in the end will avail us nothing and keep us from great treasure of knowing and serving and loving God.”
If for some reason people in 4023 still remember your name or my name, I hope it’s not because, enticed by the love of the world, we famously walked away from our faith. As Pastor Jeff Terrell reminded us a few weeks ago as we looked together at the book of Ecclesiastes, God wants us to enjoy this life. But we must be careful not to love it.
Ladies, don’t forget. The third spring women’s Bible study begins next week.
It’s a three week study in the book of Malachi. You can sign up for the Monday evening study or the Tuesday afternoon study. But you need to sign up to let us know you plan to be part of the group. Click here for more information or to sign up.
And I hope you have this event on your calendar as well.
The event is free, but we need to know you’re coming. Click here to sign up.
Moms and Dads. Don’t forget that your students have a game night this week.
On Mother’s Day, we’ll be taking time in our worship service for parents to formally dedicate their children to the Lord.
If you are new parents or if you have a son or daughter who has never been dedicated to the Lord, please contact Cathy Crowell so we can add you to our list. cvrcrowell.RCC@gmail.com
If you’re new to Redeemer and you’d like to know more about what it means to become a member of our church, we have a New Members Get Together planned just for you!
Contact Matt Gurney if you have any questions or if you’d like to take part in this event. Mattgurney77@gmail.com.
As the Roman guards prepared to remove Jesus’ body from the cross and take it to a mass grave site, two men stepped forward and asked to have the body released into their custody so they could give Him a proper burial. We’ll meet these two men on Sunday and find out what was behind their request for Jesus’ body as we finish our study in John 19.
See you in church.
Soli Deo Gloria!