As I drove down the road the other day I noticed more Help Needed Signs posted in front of businesses. I pray help needed wasn’t just for seasonal employment for the Holidays, but lasting real employment opportunities. As I looked at the signs, I thought about the Help Needed opportunities at Rome First as we enter a New Season of New Opportunities in 2017. As we begin a new year, I am reminded of a relevant insight from C. S. Lewis in The Screwtape Letters. This classic book contains advice from a senior tempter to his apprentice. Its backward logic brilliantly unmasks some of Satan's most subtle strategies. Consider this example: "Be sure that the patient [the person being tempted] remains completely fixated on politics. Arguments, political gossip, and obsessing on the faults of people they have never met serves as an excellent distraction from advancing in personal virtue, character, and the things the patient can control. Make sure to keep the patient in a constant state of angst, frustration, and general disdain towards the rest of the human race in order to avoid any kind of charity or inner peace from further developing. Ensure the patient continues to believe that the problem is 'out there' in the 'broken system' rather than recognizing there is a problem with himself."
The first example of that strategy in our Scripture is seen when Eve is tempted by the serpent, and then in turn the serpent is tempting Eve to blame the serpent, and Adam to blame Eve (Genesis 3:12–13). Such spiritual transference blinds us to our responsibility for the state of the world. Whether we blame the unseen “them” or the political activist next door, we focus on what we cannot change while ignoring what we can.
This strategy is lethal because the first step to solving a problem is defining it correctly. When a newspaper posed the question, "What's wrong with the world?" G. K. Chesterton reputedly replied: "Dear Sirs: I am. Sincerely Yours, G. K. Chesterton." As Tim Keller notes in The Prodigal God, "That is the attitude of someone who has grasped the message of Jesus." What is the solution to spiritual transference? "Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord" (Jeremiah 9:23–24).
One of the ways we will attempt to embody the steadfast Love and Justice of God is through establishing a center for Affordable Daycare in Rome. As you may remember in 2016, we committed our energy, resources, abilities, talents and gifts to address the Foster Care Crisis in Floyd County. One of the underlying factors in reducing the number of Foster Children - “injected” into the “system” is childcare. So, the leadership of Rome First (ONE BOARD) has adopted a plan that will make Affordable childcare a reality by using the available physical resource of the former North Rome UMC building. (For more information on the North Rome proposal, please click on the following link or call the church office to have a copy printed for you.)
So the HELP NEEDED SIGN out in Front of the North Rome Church building (The sign is not literally there yet!!!) But will soon read – “Help Needed – Prayers, People, Money, Time, Connections, etc…” Just like the sign in front of the Community Kitchen alerts passers- by to the items needed by the Kitchen – The Sign in front of North Rome will alert all who pass by the property and who visit the Rome First Web Site and click on the HELP NEEDED Icon/Button to give their help and get more information about the progress of the project. (The North Rome Project is the current Name of this new exciting ministry opportunity, but the new ministry will soon have a “new Name”. Listen, Watch and Stay tuned for more details and be ready to answer the call to offer what you can when the HELP NEEDED sign is posted!
As we begin a new year, will you delight in steadfast Love, Justice, and Righteousness in the Lord? In what things do you delight today?
It would be delightful to share in making the dream of affordable childcare become a reality right here in Rome GA!
I pray to see you in worship and in small groups for study and growth in the new year. A New Year is a great time to begin a New Thing!