When I was completing my graduate degrees at Indiana University, a human development course introduced what it considered the most primary fears of a human being. The fear is to be abandoned by those we love. More than the physical price of such desertion, the havoc wreaked upon our sense of peace and security is devastating.
Yet people endure it every day. From divorce to death, those we love and depend upon may at any moment disappear from our world. We struggle to understand why anyone would willing desert another person, especially a child.
But there is a similar question that haunts my imagination. How can people once they are aware of God even consider abandoning Him? It is one thing to watch a human relationship disintegrate but how would we desert the only true hope we have in eternity?
There is a verse in the book of 2 Chronicles that describe just such an event. It concerns a king of Israel named Rehoboam. What is striking is that everything was going well. He was at the top of his game and then out of nowhere commits spiritual suicide.
"But when Rehoboam was firmly established and strong, he abandoned the law of the LORD, and all Israel followed him in this sin." (2 Chronicles 12:1)
At the height of his popularity and power, the king abandoned the Lord. What happened? Often it is more difficult to be a believer in good times than in bad. Tough times push us toward God; but easy times can make us feel self-sufficient and self-satisfied. When everything is going right, guard your faith.
Popularity and power, the two benefits that Rehoboam chose above God, were the first two things he lost when the Egyptians invaded the land. Through Rehoboam we discover the real price to be paid for rejecting God. Even though Rehoboam later confessed his sin, the damage had already been done. He was not destroyed, but much of what was precious to him was lost.
Take care this week for the temptation of popularity or momentary power. Perhaps this week you will experience the praise of those around you or be given new authority or responsibilities. You may even feel that you are firmly established and strong in your life and beyond the reach of trouble. Trust me. You aren’t.
Don’t neglect people for your success. And don’t abandon the law of the Lord in your life. Others are watching and some of them will follow your example. Make certain it’s a good one.