If you have ever been to a play or concert, you know that everything is geared toward giving the audience a great experience. If there is a stage curtain, it opens and everything looks wonderful.
Yet, if you have ever had the privilege of going “back stage,” you realize that things look much different behind the curtain. Stuff is scattered everywhere. Stage hands are working with the curtain and preparing to move sets. Performers who looked so composed when on the stage are now frantically moving about preparing for the next scene.
Things look VERY different depending upon which side of the curtain you are on!
I remember a conversation that I once had with someone who had taken a position on a church committee. For the first time in her life, she was able to do more than simply sit in her seat during the worship service and enjoy the experience. She was now able to observe how things were done behind the scenes. She was surprised at some of the things she saw “behind the curtain.”
Behind the “church curtain,” there is the busyness of preparation for worship services. There is the craziness of working out the vision and strategies that the church will take. There is the acknowledgement of a member who is causing discord or a problem that threatens to undermine something the leadership believes God wants the church to do. Sometimes, there is sin and dysfunction among the church leadership.
Regarding dysfunction among the leadership, that is a point that was brought to my attention when I was reading and reflecting on the New Testament book of Philemon this morning. Let me take you to three places in Scripture where a man named Demas is included at the end of a letter from Paul.
Philemon 23-24 “Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers.”
Notice the name, Demas. He was a part of Paul’s ministry team. No doubt these men were developing some deep relationship ties as they went through some great times and some really tough times together.
Now, listen as Paul concludes another one of the letters that he wrote while in prison.
Colossians 4:14 “Luke the beloved physician greets you, as does Demas.”
Things still had the appearance of going well behind the curtain. Demas had proven to be a help to Paul and worthy of being included on the pages of Scripture.
But, it is interesting that the way Paul describes Demas in his letter to the church at Colosse lacks warmth. When Paul wrote to Philemon, Demas was included in a group that Paul claimed were “my fellow workers.” Yet when Paul wrote to the church at Colosse, Luke was described as “the beloved physician” but Demas was simply mentioned. There were no terms of affection.
Is it possible that problems were beginning to develop with Demas?
There is one more reference to Demas in a letter that is thought to be the last one Paul ever wrote before he was martyred. Listen to what Paul said about Demas as he pleaded with Timothy to come to visit him in his Roman prison.
2 Timothy 4:9-10 “Do your best to come to me soon. For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica…”
Demas, a man who was serving with Paul, abandoned him in prison. A man that Paul had developed a relationship with and had gone through so many things with … deserted him.
What is not mentioned in Scripture is whether this was a quick decision on Demas’ part or whether it was a problem that Paul had been dealing with for awhile that finally culminated in Demas’ departure. I suspect that Paul had been noticing Demas’ heart and was dealing with this problem long before the separation took place.
To those who were on the audience side of the curtain, things looked fine. But, behind the curtain, Paul might have been dealing with some serious difficulties before it finally became public knowledge as Demas recklessly abandoned his ministry partner.
Let’s conclude by bringing this truth home to wherever you and I may attend church…
Friend, the folks in leadership in your church are human. Hopefully, they love the Lord and are serious about pursuing holiness … but they struggle with sin just like you. Oftentimes, it affects how they relate to each other. If you were to look behind the curtain of your church, it would probably look quite different than what you expected and you may even be at least mildly disappointed at what you see.
That’s why you need to constantly lift up your church leadership to the Lord in prayer. Satan’s greatest strategy is to attack the leadership because if he can harm them, he will have greatly harmed the effectiveness of the church.
So, pray for your leadership. Pray that they would pursue holiness. Pray for their unity. Pray for their effectiveness and courage. Pray for God to give them wisdom. Pray for whatever else the Lord brings to mind. Just make sure you are loving them enough to pray for them.
Almost certainly, they need your prayers!
Ephesians 6:18-19 “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. And pray for me, too…”
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