“BROTHERS, PRAY FOR US!” — 1 Thessalonians 5:25
Prayer Points for the Rees Family • New Hope Uganda • Musana
cultivating leadership … planting churches … growing disciples … harvesting glory to Christ
1 March 2014 —You know those slide-a-piece puzzles we all used to work in dentist’s offices and great-aunt’s houses when all the “real toys” in the house had been given away long ago? With an almost tactile memory, I remember how the pieces were uncooperative, how the plastic frame would nervously rattle when only slightly shaken, and how the image of the fire truck (or clown or whatever) was so obvious even in scrambled form, but how I could hardly ever map out a course of maneuvers to get all the pieces in order. Maybe it was a left-brain/right-brain thing but I have never enjoyed puzzles. But this kind of puzzle, even if it were solved, always had a piece missing. Maybe I never liked puzzles because I craved closure too much—and to have a piece missing seemed unacceptably incomplete.
I think a piece has been “missing” in my theology; not in a heterodoxy sort of way, but in a heart of God sort of way. It’s been hidden, perhaps even semi-consciously, because all the other parts of the puzzle kept sliding into its place, or else I think that I would have seen it earlier. But this month it has become very clear that God’s heart is not merely sympathetic toward but actively engaged for the vulnerables of the world through the agency of His people. (Just a simple search on widow, fatherless, and/or foreigner will yield dozens of hits!)
The “your good works outweighing your bad works thus earning you heaven” heresy that eclipses the true gospel for billions and frustrates the gospel of grace to the point that Paul calls such aberrant belief systems “non-gospels” (Galatians 1:6) has been a constant battle in my 20 years working in the church. But the presence of that battle neither expunges the heart of God for the vulnerables nor dilutes the consistent teaching throughout Old and New Testaments that true faith will produce good works that reflect the heart of God in this dark world where widows are edged out, where orphans are forgotten, where persons labeled as “inconvenient” are aborted, where sojourners and refugees and exiles are systematically marked for injustice, where prisoners are written off, where children are exploited, where girls (and boys) are trafficked, where disabled humans who bear the image of God are treated as non-human, where the poor are dismissed as one-dimensionally irresponsible. One of the good works (post-conversion!) that has always marked the people of God is bringing “the fatherhood of God to the fatherless” (Psalm 68:5). This became more than “academic” for us this month.
• Truth — Please pray that we all (you too!) get the mind of Christ on this huge swath of biblical revelation on justice without slipping into the non-gospel of good works without grace.
• Response — Please pray that we all (you too!) find the faith-response to this revelation of God’s heart without slipping into impulsive-driven reaction to human need.
• Wisdom — Please pray that we all (you too!) map a course of maneuvers for solving this theological puzzle to the glory of God without slipping into the abyss of self-glorification or the nebulous and gospel-less spirit of volunteerism that gives merely for the sake of giving.
Together with you—Kevin, Shellie, Seth, Emma, Abby, Nate, and Jocelyn Rees
New Hope Uganda: Kasana (until May 2014)—P. O. Box 16, Luwero, Uganda, East Africa
New Hope Uganda: Musana (after May 2014)—P. O. Box 123, Lugazi, Uganda, East Africa