How far will you go for love? Does it appear to be a simple enough question, hmm? What would your answers be?
Last year, Cadbury Dairy Milk Silk created a one-minute video advert as part of their annual Valentine’s Day campaign, and it concludes with the question I posed for you at the beginning of this article. It starts by displaying a pretty young-looking lady walking down the street in the shade. She makes a left turn and steps into the blistering sun of the day. Surprisingly, a handsome young boy appears on top of the buildings on the street, holding an umbrella to provide a shade for the lady a few meters below her. She raises her head, looks up with a beaming face. She sees the boy walking in sync with her, trying to keep up with her pace, jumping from one building to another while holding a bar of Cadbury Dairy Milk Silk chocolate in his left hand and the umbrella on the right. He decides to share his Cadbury chocolate with her. He throws it to her. She bites and gives a gleeful chuckle and continues to walk. She becomes absorbed and oblivious of her surrounding; she steps on items being sold by traders across the street. Unperturbed, she continues to walk. That’s how far the two went for the sake of their love.
DOING ANYTHING FOR LOVE
The annals of human history have enough stories of Individuals who went to great lengths for the sake of love. Mughal emperor Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal, an enormous mausoleum of ivory-white marble in memory of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. King Nebuchadnezzar constructed Hanging Gardens of Babylon for his wife, Amytis, to make her a palace that resembles her mountainous native land full of vegetation. It later became one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Cassander (an ancient Macedonian ruler) renamed Therma in honour of his wife (Queen Thessalonike, sister of Alexander the Great) to Thessalonica.
Thessalonica was the hometown for our person of interest today, who was called Demas. He served with Paul in his missionary journeys together with Mark, Aristarchus and Luke (Philemon 1:24.) Demas was with Paul in Rome during his first imprisonment (Colossians 4:14.)
DEMAS LOVES THE WORLD
Unfortunately, Paul mentions in 2 Timothy 4:10, “For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica.” Thessalonica was the capital city of the Roman province of Macedonia, a wealthy city located on two major Roman roads, making it a significant economic hub with a large population. Demas left Paul and all the hardships of ministry and immersed himself in the life of this big city where everything is growing and moving. Jon Bloom (Desiring God) suggests, “Maybe Demas feared being executed with Paul and fled to safety. Maybe he caved into the relentless temptation of a more comfortable, prosperous life in the large, cosmopolitan, pluralistic, wealthy, culturally interesting city of Thessalonica.”
Dr Thomas Constable informs us that the constitutional method of inflicting capital punishment on a Roman citizen was by the lictor’s axe. The criminal was tied to a stake, cruelly scourged with the rods, and then beheaded. Demas to give up his own life in this manner for the sake of Christ
THE EXAMPLE OF MOSES
The writer of Hebrews says that by faith, Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the Son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing instead to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ more incredible wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. (Hebrews 11:25-26) How far did Moses go for the love of God? He gave up everything and refused to become a prince. Demas, on the contrary, forsook God for the love of the World.
Paul used powerful words to describe this painful abandonment. The word “deserted/forsaken” in 2 Timothy 4:10 is the Greek word “enkateleipō.” The same word found in Matthew 27:46
Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” It is also used positively in Hebrews 13:5 when God assures us, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
EPAPHRODITUS RISKS HIS LIFE
Epaphroditus was a messenger of Paul to the church in Philippi. He delivered the original manuscript of the book of Philippians on behalf of Paul when Paul was under house arrest in Rome. He was dearly loved by Paul, who had this to say about him, “I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need” (Philippians 2:25.)
Paul concludes chapter 2 by telling us more about his beloved brother. Paul asserts that “he (Epaphroditus) nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me” (Philippians 2:30.)
He valued Christ more than his own life. That’s how far he went for the sake of Christ.
TURN YOUR EYES UPON JESUS
Helen H. Lemmel composed a glorious hymn (Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus) after a friend of hers gave her a pamphlet titled “Focused”, and it had the words, “So then, turn your eyes upon Him, look full into His face, and you will find that the things of earth will acquire a strange new dimness.” These words inspired her to write the hymn and used those words to form the chorus. Jesus said plainly in John 14:15, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” That’s it! If Demas loved Jesus Christ, he would not have done what he did. Dear saint, if you want to avoid the allurements of the World, you must pursue Christ daily and love him deeply. Do not love the World or the things in the World. If anyone loves the World, the love of the Father is not in him. For the World offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father but are from this World. (1 John 2:15-16)
I will ask again, how far will you go for love? And to be specific, how far will you go for the love of Christ? We have seen examples of human beings doing extraordinary things for those whom they love. Yet God outdid all of them. For God so loved the World, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16.) Be ready to suffer for Christ for his renown. Since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourself with the same attitude because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God (1 Peter 4:1-6.) That’s how far we should go. Serve and follow God unswervingly.