Not all Roses
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". . . These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also;" KJV
Whenever you read verses like this one, do you ever pine for the good old days of the Bible? Days when the Red Sea divided or the giant fell to the ground or water became wine. Most of our days are rather mundane in comparison to what we read in the Bible. I mean, I've never stood before a bush that was burning, but wasn't being consumed and heard the voice of God, have you?
For the past few months we've feasted on a steady diet of the miraculous. Acts is a book filled with passages like this one and I've enjoyed every minute of our study together. I've enjoyed fanning the flames of faith and remembering how God advanced His early church. Certainly one theme that runs through this book is that God specializes in doing the impossible, but today I want to talk about another theme that sometimes the going gets pretty tough for those who follow Christ.
Take the Apostle Paul for example. Yes, he'd turned the world upside down as our text says, but his journey wasn't that easy. For one thing, not all of his followers remained loyal to him.
Demas is only mentioned three times in the Bible. Twice, Paul sent his greetings on to the people he was writing. The third time Paul mentioned him was in 2 Tim. 4:10 "Demas has deserted me because he loves the things of this life and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus has gone to Dalmatia." (NLT)
Paul turned the world upside down, even though men like Demas were not loyal to him. Proverbs 3:3 says "Never let loyalty and kindness get away from you! Wear them like a necklace; write them deep within your heart." (NLT) G. K. Chesterton said, "We are all in the same boat in a stormy sea, and we owe each other a terrible loyalty." (http://www.worldofquotes.com/topic/Loyalty/1/)
Loyalty is a non-negotiable as far as I'm concerned. How could Paul turn the world upside down when his partners in the boat on the stormy sea were not loyal? Well, all I can say is ministry isn't all roses.
Demas wasn't the only one that demonstrated disloyalty. Even young John Mark, deserted Paul. Acts 15:38 NLT But Paul disagreed strongly, since John Mark had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not shared in their work. John Mark was a young man and made a young man's mistake he left before the job was done. Paul did not want to bring John Mark along this time and entered into a fatal argument with Barnabas. Barnabas was so upset with Paul's leadership that he severed his relationship with him, refused to accept his judgment and separated from Paul. Acts 15:39 NLT "Their disagreement over this was so sharp that they separated. Barnabas took John Mark with him and sailed for Cyprus."
Now this is just shameful. Why couldn't these men of God set aside their differences for the gospel's sake? Why was Paul so pig-headed that he wouldn't give the young man a second chance? By now, Paul had emerged as the leader, why didn't Barnabas submit to his leader and leave John Mark home?
How can these men expect to turn the world upside down when they aren't right with one another? Well, all I can say is ministry isn't all roses.
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