What Am I Missing?

life-of-faithWhen I hear a puzzling story or a comment about someone or some event, I wonder about the specifics of the situation and ask:

  • What happened?
  • What are the facts?
  • What details am I missing?

The mention of the name Demas stokes the fire of my curiosity.  Of the three passages that refer to Demas, two are positive and one is negative:

  • Philemon 23-25: “Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.”
  • Colossians 4:14: “Luke the beloved physician greets you, as does Demas.”
  • 2 Timothy 4:10: “Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica.”

What happened to Demas?  How could he go from being a co-laborer with the Apostle Paul to being classified as a Christian who went AWOL?  Had his Christian experience been a mere dalliance with no true alliance to Christ?

Was Demas like the sunshine soldier that Thomas Paine spoke of when he addressed the difficult times in which he lived?

 “These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country.” 

Contrary to what many people believe, living a life of faith is not for the frail of heart.  Paul suggests that it takes guts, courage and backbone:

  • I Timothy 6:11-12: Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith.
  • 2 Timothy 2:3 “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”
  • I Corinthians 9:24-25: “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.”
  • Hebrews 12:1-2: “we must get rid of every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and run with endurance the race set out for us, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.”

Demas dismissed the principled and dedicated life that Paul modeled, but a man named Jim Elliot embraced it.  Sixty years ago, Elliot was martyred on the mission fields of Ecuador. A daily practice of his was to write in his journal, and his notes give a glimpse of his dedication to Christ:

  • “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
  • “Rest in this: it is His business to lead, command, impel, send, call or whatever you want to call it. It is your business to obey, follow, move, respond, or what have you.”
  • “God, I pray Thee, light these idle sticks of my life that I may burn for Thee. Consume my life, my God, for it is Thine. I seek not a long life but a full one like You, Lord Jesus.”

When you consider your life and the faith factor, what do you see.  Is your Christian walk little more than a dalliance of dedication, or does it reflect a true alliance with Jesus Christ?

Solving Life’s Equations

addsup“They see, but they’re blind. They hear, but they don’t listen.” These are the paraphrased words of Jesus in Matthew 13.

While there are some people who simply cannot see and understand, because they lack insight, there are others who seem to see and comprehend because of foresight. For some people, life is an unsolvable equation, for others life is as easy as 1+1=2.

Here’s an example of what I mean: The total cost of a bat and a ball is $ 1.10. The cost of the bat is $ 1.00 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost? What’s your first response? There’s a good chance that your first thought is the ball must cost 10 cents. Look at the question again: The bat costs $ 1.00 more than the ball, so the bat must cost $ 1.05, and the ball costs 5 cents.

When I think of this little exercise, I think of what Jesus said: There are too many people who see with a blind eye and listen with a deaf ear.

Faith has nothing in common with eyes that don’t see and ears that don’t hear. Faith sees what the eye can’t see, and it hears what the ear can’t hear. The blind eye sees the prowling lion, while the eye of faith see Daniel’s angel.

Faith allows us to see beyond the sunset of the ordinary and it enables us to grasp the sunrise of the extraordinary (Hebrews 11):
• By faith Abel offered a more excellent sacrifice
• By faith Noah built the ark
• By faith kingdoms were conquered and the mouths of lions were stopped9

Noah and Daniel were not blind—they saw what others didn’t see, and they heard what others refused to hear. Many of their contemporaries saw life as a ridiculous riddle, but for them the answer was simple: Trust the unknown future to the all-knowing God.

Trusting God in this fashion makes more than a nickel’s worth of difference, it’s the difference between sound and silence, night and day, and life and death.