The Inadequate Intern

The life of Demas, the inadequate intern

Jon Green, Ministerial Intern, Texas Conference

I wish we knew more about him. He is mentioned only three times in the Bible. His biography consists of only thirteen words in those texts. It will be necessary to fill in some of the missing links of the life of Demas, the inadequate intern.

No doubt he, as any intern, had high hopes and lofty ideals. He had heard the great apostle Paul speak. He had admired the Christian life of this chosen vessel of God.

I can see Demas as a young man. Maybe it was in Lystra, or Thessalonica, or Ephe­sus, or Corinth where he first heard Paul. As Paul related his experiences the mind of Demas may have drifted away in imagina­tion and he was experiencing with Paul the things of which he was speaking.

He was beside Paul as the glory of God from heaven struck the persecutor blind. He was there supporting him as he was led into Damascus. He was imagining himself stop­ping a man on the street and asking for directions to Straight Street.

Plainly he heard the rumblings of the earthquake that broke down the prison walls in Philippi. Briskly he traveled with Paul from town to town. The roads seemed short and smooth. The way seemed pleasant. The crowds seemed eager to hear the gos­pel. All was gratifying.

Snapping out of his pleasant imaginings he was just in time to hear Paul making a call for a helper.

This is wonderful. How I would like to intern under so great a person. I must vol­unteer. I could not think of anything else so wonderful, he must have thought. Rising to his feet he accepted the call.

As the days and weeks passed it all turned out as he had imagined. Briskly he walked those roads that seemed so short, and smooth, and pleasant. He thrilled to see the crowds that seemed so eager to hear the gospel. And I think he must have been a fine companion, for Paul, in Philemon 24, calls him a fellow laborer.

Demas had the opportunity to become a great worker of the gospel, and I think Paul's plans and hopes for him were matched only by his own aspirations. Day after day as they walked those roads in travel, Paul must have carefully explained the doctrines of Christianity to his young companion. Time and again Paul must have recounted his experience with Christ on the road to Damascus. Is it any wonder that Demas walked briskly?

Disillusionment

But then disillusionment began to set in. His steps began to falter. The roads grew longer. They became rougher. The way be­came dreary. Those crowds were changing. They did not seem so eager to hear the gospel as before. And then, on top of it all, Paul was imprisoned.

Paul was incarcerated in a gloomy dun­geon in Rome, there to remain until his course was finished. "Accused of instigating one of the basest and most terrible crimes against the city and the nation, he was the object of universal execration.

"The few friends who had shared the bur­dens of the apostle, now began to leave him, some by desertion, and others on missions to the various churches."—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 490. It was almost too much for Demas. Struggling, he remained steadfast; but he could not keep out of his mind what his possibilities would be out in the world. He had failed to gain missionary fame as Paul had done. Things were difficult in this work. Day after day his vision of the future grew dimmer and dimmer. "Then Demas, dismayed by the thickening clouds of diffi­culty and danger, forsook the persecuted apostle."—Ibid. Cannot you hear the sorrow of Paul as he dictates the other words of Demas' biography in 2 Timothy 4:10? "For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessa­lonica."

What a sorrowful finale to such a great opportunity. Think of the great work he might have done for God! He could have been a founding pillar of the Christian church, but he sacrificed it all because he loved this present world. How shortsighted he was—what an inadequate intern.

Inadequate Commitment

His commitment was inadequate. He had failed to commit himself at all cost. Demas discovered that Christ's work did not have a lot to offer in comfort. The roads were rugged, the crowds difficult. No doubt he had been swept off his feet by the opportu­nity and learned later what the cost of work­ing for Christ was. His commitment was not sufficient to keep him from looking back. As Jesus said in Luke 9:62, "No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." Only with complete commitment could Demas have succeeded.

Inadequate Devotion

His devotion was inadequate. His devo­tion was diverted from Christ. Demas tried to do two things at once. The love of the world was struggling for survival in his heart, and because of inadequate devotion to Christ the love of the world triumphed. He attempted, no doubt unconsciously, to prove Christ's words wrong that "no man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon" (Matt. 6: 24). How important it would have been had he remembered Christ's words: "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and breth­ren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:26, 27).

Inadequate Courage

His courage was inadequate. One of the greatest assets needed by a worker for God is courage—courage that will stand the test of ridicule and hardship—courage that will enable him to stand for the right. My mind goes back to this principle as it is embodied in those words that you can probably say from memory: "The greatest want of the world is the want of men—men who will not be bought or sold, men who in their inmost souls are true and honest, men who  do not fear to call sin by its right name, men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole, men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall."—Educa­tion, p. 57.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we interns could find a simple way to overcome the in­adequacies that beset Demas? If only there was something we could eat or drink or, in keeping with the idiosyncrasies of this pres­ent age, a pill we could swallow that would ensure our adequacies in the Lord's work. However, there is a simple formula I would like to submit to you that can ensure over­coming our inadequacies. I do not know, but possibly if Paul were here in this scien­tific-oriented age he could give his unquali­fied approval to this formula. In fact, he wrote down for us the elements of it.

Overcoming Those Inadequacies

The first element of this formula is found in 1 Corinthians 15:31, where Paul states, "I die daily." Therefore, the first important element is "I" or "I die daily."

For the second important element let us turn to Galatians 2:20: "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." So Paul says that Christ lives in him. Now we have our completed formula—I plus Christ, or I, dying daily, with Christ living in me, gives me the ade­quacies that I need.

Notice how this formula worked for Paul. Look at the adequacies it gave him. As he was taken back to Rome for the second time in chains, his commitment, devotion, and courage were still strong. As he waited there in his gloomy dungeon, the glory of God was with him. Then it was that Demas­his friend and traveling companion—de­serted him. Yet none of this destroyed Paul, for he knew that Christ lived in him. It was during those terribly dark days that Paul wrote: "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing" (2 Tim. 4:7, 8).

With this formula at work in our lives as it was in Paul's, you and I can escape the sorrowful experience of Demas, the inade­quate intern.

What a sorrowful finale to such a great opportunity. Think of the great work he might have done for God! He could have been a founding pillar of the Christian church, but he sacrificed it all because he loved this present world. How shortsighted he was—what an inadequate intern.

Inadequate Commitment

His commitment was inadequate. He had failed to commit himself at all cost. Demas discovered that Christ's work did not have a lot to offer in comfort. The roads were rugged, the crowds difficult. No doubt he had been swept off his feet by the opportu­nity and learned later what the cost of work­ing for Christ was. His commitment was not sufficient to keep him from looking back. As Jesus said in Luke 9:62, "No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." Only with complete commitment could Demas have succeeded.

Inadequate Devotion

His devotion was inadequate. His devo­tion was diverted from Christ. Demas tried to do two things at once. The love of the world was struggling for survival in his heart, and because of inadequate devotion to Christ the love of the world triumphed. He attempted, no doubt unconsciously, to prove Christ's words wrong that "no man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon" (Matt. 6: 24). How important it would have been had he remembered Christ's words: "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and breth­ren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:26, 27).

Inadequate Courage

His courage was inadequate. One of the greatest assets needed by a worker for God is courage—courage that will stand the test of ridicule and hardship—courage that will enable him to stand for the right. My mind goes back to this principle as it is embodied in those words that you can probably say from memory: "The greatest want of the world is the want of men—men who will not be bought or sold, men who in their inmost souls are true and honest, men who  do not fear to call sin by its right name, men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole, men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall."—Educa­tion, p. 57.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we interns could find a simple way to overcome the in­adequacies that beset Demas? If only there was something we could eat or drink or, in keeping with the idiosyncrasies of this pres­ent age, a pill we could swallow that would ensure our adequacies in the Lord's work. However, there is a simple formula I would like to submit to you that can ensure over­coming our inadequacies. I do not know, but possibly if Paul were here in this scien­tific-oriented age he could give his unquali­fied approval to this formula. In fact, he wrote down for us the elements of it.

Overcoming Those Inadequacies

The first element of this formula is found in 1 Corinthians 15:31, where Paul states, "I die daily." Therefore, the first important element is "I" or "I die daily."

For the second important element let us turn to Galatians 2:20: "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." So Paul says that Christ lives in him. Now we have our completed formula—I plus Christ, or I, dying daily, with Christ living in me, gives me the ade­quacies that I need.

Notice how this formula worked for Paul. Look at the adequacies it gave him. As he was taken back to Rome for the second time in chains, his commitment, devotion, and courage were still strong. As he waited there in his gloomy dungeon, the glory of God was with him. Then it was that Demas­his friend and traveling companion—de­serted him. Yet none of this destroyed Paul, for he knew that Christ lived in him. It was during those terribly dark days that Paul wrote: "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing" (2 Tim. 4:7, 8).

With this formula at work in our lives as it was in Paul's, you and I can escape the sorrowful experience of Demas, the inade­quate intern.


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Jon Green, Ministerial Intern, Texas Conference

March 1968

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