“How cheap are the principles for which we do not have to fight, how easy it is to establish codes when all the while our freedom to talk had been fought for and bled for by others.”
--Louis L'Amour (North to the Rails)
"Then all his disciples deserted him and ran away."
--Mark 14:50 (NLT)
In the Book of Colossians, Paul writes that Luke and Demas greet you (4:14) and then in the last letter written by Paul, one of the saddest commentaries is to be found, "for Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world..." (2 Timothy 4:10, NKJV).
Here is a person that has known the Lord, has traveled with Paul to present the Gospel and now--he left Paul because of his love for the world. Desertion! Paul disliked deserters. When Barnabas wanted to take John Mark with them on their second journey Paul was adamant in his decision of "NO!" He didn't go as far as to say that John Mark had left the faith, but he wasn't doing his duty while traveling with them and thus had "deserted" the mission.
Talk is cheap! Desertion is rampant. When the word comes up our first thoughts go to soldiers in the time of war. Men, who swore an oath, now leave their post, shirk their duty and run away. However, the more rampant kind of desertion if that of a spouse, usually the husband. There can be desertion at home, career-minded parents often desert the needs of their children; deadbeat fathers are present but are not truly "dads". What is abortion if not desertion? Desertion causes us to have feelings of disgust for desertion speaks of failure in the face of challenge. Consider the following:
"And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it—lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him."
--Luke 14:27-29 (NKJV)
In any endeavor we are told to count the cost. This is speaking of military, home, marriage, career--count the cost. I get so sick of college creampuffs whining about how much they owe on their college debt. True, the cost is out of sight, but--count the cost. They knew their financial responsibility upon taking out the loans, now they want to get out of repayment--desertion to their responsibility.
I like what Mort Crim wrote several years back.
"Desertion is a detestable word. It suggests courage defeated by cowardice, fidelity fallen victim to fear.... Desertion is the ultimate dereliction of duty. It is not always premeditated; often it is a reaction to some immediate threat.... Devotion is costly. But so is desertion. To desert a person or a principle can destroy self-respect and bring spiritual death to the deserter."
Yes, there is a cost, a high cost to being a disciple. There is a cost of devotion, but when the duty is fulfilled, ah, the joy that it brings to the soul. There is fulfillment. The cost of desertion is the opposite. The person becomes scorned, their name is recorded and they are shunned.
Two things in closing: remain true in your devotion. Stay devoted to the cause so the words will ring out when that final day comes, "well done, good and faithful servant." Second, look at Jesus. He is the supreme example of devotion. When the disciples fled, He remained obedient to His mission and true to them. Jesus took on the cross, He became sin--He never deserted the will of the Father or the mission set before Him.