The term ally is often associated with foreign policy. When a country or state is at odds with an adversary, leaders will reach out to like minded nations to form a verbal or written allegiance. These politically formed allies become partners by cooperating in times of need, participating in joint military operations and supporting one another when unforeseen events arise. Faithful allies become colleagues, friends and helpers to make the world a better place to live.
But some Jews arrived there from Antioch and Iconium; and having persuaded the people and won them over, they stoned Paul and [afterward] dragged him out of the town, thinking that he was dead. But the disciples formed a circle about him, and he got up and went back into the town; and on the morrow he went on with Barnabas to Derbe, Acts 14:19-20.
While on trial for his faith, the apostle Paul refers God as his ally. When you take a look at the numerous times Paul’s life was in danger, the Lord always sent an angel, believer or concerned citizen to come the rescue. In the passage above, Paul was stoned, left for dead by his accusers. Instead of accepting that Paul would die, the disciples formed a circle around Paul to prevent any further attacks. Although Luke doesn’t mention prayer, I’m sure one, several or all of these godly men hoped and prayed for a speedy recovery, to restore Paul’s health quickly.
[But] to this day I have had the help which comes from God [as my ally], and so I stand here testifying to small and great alike, asserting nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses declared would come to pass, Acts 26:22.
Paul’s testimony in the passage above makes me wonder if I truly view God as my ally. While I see God as my friend and Savior, genuine allies cooperate with or help one another in a particular activity. This particular activity would be fulfilling the great commission, Acts 1:8, by using my God given gifts. Similar to American allies, I go through periods where I am missing due to in action. The flesh, a.k.a. the sinful nature has a way of persuading distracted souls to become self-centered, breaking your allegiance to God. Paul devotes two chapters of the Bible to this, Romans 7 and 8. May this blog inspire you to rekindle your relationship with God by becoming a better ally with the Creator of the universe.
According to Colossians 4:14 and Philemon 1:24, a man named Demas appears to have been involved with Paul’s earthly ministry. Although the exact role served by this man is unclear, Demas devoted a portion of his life to serving God. Apparently, Demas’ passion for the mission field faded away, replaced by a love for pleasures of this world. Based upon the passage below, Demas may have been one of Paul’s converts from Thessalonica, returning home to pursue secular aspirations.
Make every effort to come to me soon; 10 for Demas, having loved [the pleasures of] this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica; Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia, 2 Timothy 4:9-10.
When I first read this passage, I began to wonder why spiritual faith disappears. To a certain extent, our culture is partially responsible, giving modern Christians who leave ministry positions permission to finally get paid a decent wage. My first year as a High School Bible teacher I made a salary of $19,000. A decade later, my final year of teaching earned me just over $30K, which included two coaching positions. You can’t put a price on the spiritual benefits of serving God, but when you are living just above the poverty line, it’s no wonder that more and more individuals leave churches to start a professional career.
But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 But those who [are not financially ethical and] crave to get rich [with a compulsive, greedy longing for wealth] fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction [leading to personal misery]. 10 For the love of money [that is, the greedy desire for it and the willingness to gain it unethically] is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves [through and through] with many sorrows, 1 Timothy 6:8-10.
In the passage above, Paul unveils the mindset which sets the stage for faith to disappear. Perhaps, Paul is referring to Demas or others believers Paul met while on the mission field. Paul suggests that money can trap those who once trusted in the Lord for daily bread to be led astray by a craving for more. As people develop a love for money, faith is often left behind. The apostle Paul wrote a letter to the church in Rome, Romans 8:5-8, eluding to two mindsets, one that focuses on God and the other on worldly desires. Whenever individuals taste forbidden fruit, reaching beyond the line where the grass appears greener sets the stage for faith to disappear. Yet, before your mind becomes hostile to God, think twice before you act so you don’t follow in the footsteps of Demas.
by Jay Mankus
According to Colossians 4:14 and Philemon 1:24, Demas assisted the apostle Paul in some capacity during his missionary journeys. While Demas isn’t considered a dear friend like Luke, this man is referred to as a fellow worker in fulfilling the great commission, Acts 1:8. Yet, as some point Demas had second thoughts of devoting his life to the ministry.
Make every effort to come to me soon; 10 for Demas, having loved [the pleasures of] this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica; Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very helpful to me for the ministry, 2 Timothy 4:9-11.
Paul shares this disappointing news in a letter to a teenage pastor. Demas wasn’t the first Christian to abandon Paul on the mission field. Luke describes how Barnabas’ cousin, John Mark departed in Acts 15:38. Biblical scholars blame Mark’s decision on an illness or simply becoming homesick. Whenever believers leave the church to pursue secular aspirations, levels of commitment, faith and maturity are exposed.
But godliness actually is a source of great gain when accompanied by contentment [that contentment which comes from a sense of inner confidence based on the sufficiency of God]. 7 For we have brought nothing into the world, so [it is clear that] we cannot take anything out of it, either. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content, 1 Timothy 6:6-8.
The difference between the first century and modern churches is the sense of urgency that existed. Many first century leaders lived their lives as if Jesus was going to return tomorrow. This mentality drove the apostle Paul to seize every opportunity to proclaim Jesus as the Messiah, offering the promise of eternal life to all who would listen, 1 John 5:13. While some modern congregations possess a similar mindset, apathy has caused my faith to slowly disappear.
But those who [are not financially ethical and] crave to get rich [with a compulsive, greedy longing for wealth] fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction [leading to personal misery]. 10 For the love of money [that is, the greedy desire for it and the willingness to gain it unethically] is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves [through and through] with many sorrows, 1 Timothy 6:9-10.
After spending fifteen years in churches, ten as a Bible teacher and five serving in local youth groups, I deserted the ministry. Living just above the poverty line for a decade was enough for me to pursue temporary pleasures as the apostle Paul suggests. The only trace of my remaining faith exists in this blog. While I am not proud of the person that I have become by living outside of the church, it is what it is for now. My only prayer is that I strive to become a modern day tentmaker, earning enough money to provide for my family while serving the Lord in some other capacity going forward.