Does the name Demas ring a bell?
Now before you wreck your brain trying to remember just where you’ve heard that strange name…..I’m not talking here about a great uncle on your moms side of the family or an obscure Disney character from one of your favorite childhood flicks, but actually a guy in Scripture who has a pretty sad…but all too common story. We don’t know alot about Demas, but what we do know is pretty depressing.
Demas is mentioned by the Apostle Paul in the New Testement and appears to have been a man involved in the ministry as a companion of Paul. He was with Paul during his first imprisonment in Rome, but later when Paul wrote his second letter to Timothy, he said that Demas had left…he had forsaken him, “having loved this present world.”
Paul writes that Demas, as a result of his love for this present age (also sometimes translated “world“), left him and went to Thessalonica. He starting off with a bang and ended with a thud. First mention of Demas- on fire for Christ! Even to the point of imprisonment…willing to suffer for the sake of his great name. Last mention- he had faded away.
What happened with this man named Demas? What went wrong?
While Scripture doesn’t give us all the details…and we should be careful (OK…really careful) about assuming in instances like this, I’m certain of one thing…….
Demas didn’t just wake up one day and decide to forsake the Faith.
No, it NEVER happens like that. Ever. It’s a process. It’s a slippery slope. It’s a snowball. It’s a slow, slow fade.
The sad story of Demas has been repeated time and time again. Fired up believers turn into fizzled out observers. In my ministry experiance, I’ve seen this take place more often than I’d like to admit (and have experienced it myself, to an extent). It usually begins with a pulling away from the Word of God and prayer followed by a desire to isolate oneself from believers (i.e. lack of Biblical faithfulness concerning the Church). These usually are accompanied by a difficult life circumstance, family trouble, misplaced priorities, ect and even a plethora of excuses to justify their falling away. At the end of the day, the spark that sets the fire is sin and the refusal to deal with it. One thing leads to another and BOOM! Faith is floundering, fruit stops falling and even the family falters (slow fades effect more than ourselves as those we love most always seems to jump aboard). Those fading barely see it coming.
Lately, I’ve been heartbroken and praying for a few friends that are heading in the direction of Demas. Like him, these friends started strong! Like Demas, they were on fire! Like Demas, they were serving Christ in amazing ways! And like Demas…they began to fade, and like Demas they don’t even realize it.
The good news- unlike Demas, their story isn’t finished. Though they are fading, they’re not finished.
I once read a story about a young man who was visiting Stone Mountain (in the great State of Georgia!). Those who’ve been to Stone Mountain know that it’s not your typical mountain. No sheer cliff edge but a long, smooth, rounded peak, albeit a very deceptively dangerous one. He wanted to get a better view of the bottom so he hopped the rail to get closer. He inched down the mountain a little…then a little more…then a little more…until he had gotten to the place where he couldnt get back up. Long story short, this was before Stone Mountain was heavily traficed and security measure were taken, so he was there for a long time. Eventually, he became to weak to hang on a fell to his death.
This is the danger of following the fade of Demas. Most don’t realize how dangerous it is until it’s too late.
So, what about you? Have you found yourself slipping? Passion waning? Service slacking? What will you do to avoid falling off the mountain?
Maybe you are like myself and are seeing for some of your friends what they don’t seem to be seeing for themselves. What responsibility do you have?
If you love them…you’ll graciously, lovingly, yet firmly warn them, pray for them and encourage them. Don’t delay. They may be closer to the edge than you realize.
Love you All And In Gloria Excelsis Deo, Pastor