By Bob Bunn
My wife is active in our church’s children’s ministry. So, even though I’m more comfortable working with students or young adults, I often pitch in to help her with some kids’ events. One of the things I’ve helped her with the most has been Parents Night Out.
Let me explain if you’re not familiar with Parents Night Out (or PNO). Basically, we let parents sign up for a few hours of life without kids. We watch their children for an evening so they can go out on a date or take a break from the hectic life of being a mom and dad. It’s a good time for them to catch their breath and recharge their batteries. My primary responsibility is leading games. So, over time, I’ve accumulated a list of games that I can pull out and adapt to all kinds of themes. Some are old favorites that we play every time, while others only come out every once in a while. And I always try to find a new one they’ve never played.
One tried-and-true game is Follow the Leader. Another is Simon Says. In both games, the primary objective is following instructions and imitating what the leader does. In some ways, it’s a primer for life as an adult because we all have leaders we tend to follow, whether we admit it or not.
In today’s passages, the Israelites had a choice about whom they would follow. The kingdom was divided into two separate nations, one in the north and one in the south. Rehoboam, the son of Solomon and the grandson of David maintained the throne in the southern kingdom of Judah, but he led his people in the wrong direction.
Rather than obeying the law and honoring the covenant God had made with his ancestors, Rehoboam turned away from the Lord—and ended up paying the consequences. God allowed the Egyptians to attack and ransack his capital at Jerusalem, and they only withdrew after Judah’s leaders humbled themselves and turned back to Him.
The problem was Rehoboam had gotten comfortable after he felt like everything was under control. If we’re honest, that’s how it works with us too. When things are going great, we are more likely to abandon God and do our own thing. And, like Rehoboam, God takes us out of our comfort zone and puts us in a position where we have to trust Him again.
God never enjoys disciplining His people, but He loves us too much to let us walk away from Him without feeling the weight of our decision.
During this season of Lent, we must remember that sin has consequences. In fact, that’s why Jesus sacrificed His life on the cross. He paid the ultimate penalty for our decision to abandon God and go our own way.
God takes sin seriously, so let’s be careful about the leaders we choose—and the leaders we become.