Sunday July 31, 2005 | Dwayne Polk
I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit— I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.
It was great to hear from Dwayne Polk—one of our Associate Youth Pastors—this week! Dwayne reminded us of an important word Greg delivered to Woodland Hills in June of 2004. God led Greg to speak these words to us: “I know of your passion in worship and fervor in proclamation, but you are too much of an event and too little of a community…become a community. Let all who have an ear to hear listen to what the Spirit is saying.” Dwayne then challenged us to look at what it would look like to be living in redemptive community.
It was great to hear from Dwayne Polk—one of our Associate Youth Pastors—this week! The title of his message was: “The Right Heart for Redemptive Community.” Dwayne reminded us of an important word Greg delivered to WH on 6/6/04. God led Greg to speak these words to us: “I know of your passion in worship and fervor in proclamation, but you are too much of an event and too little of a community…become a community. Let all who have an ear to hear listen to what the Spirit is saying.”
We all know that our enemy is one who is called the Father of Lies. But sometimes the enemy will use the truth of what is happening right now to keep us from believing in what God plans to do in the future. So not only does the enemy lie to us about who we are, but he also reminds us of what is true (he’s our accuser) to keep us from becoming more than that. We’ll return to this later…
Dr. M. Scott Peck, a psychiatrist and famous Christian author describes the four essential stages that people go through on the way to community. Since our vision is to become “a community of spiritually empowered people” we’ll do well to learn what to expect! These four stages are as follows:
Pseudo-community: this is the first stage where everyone is on their best behavior. People are getting to know one another so there is the fun of discovering what you have in common. This stage is a bit like a “honeymoon” where we tend to overlook shortcomings out of excitement.
Chaos: Sooner or later, real differences must be faced. This is when chaos breaks into the scene. Perhaps there is a dispute over theology, or over meeting logistics, or even just a clash of personalities that has worn someone thin. This is when things take a turn more directly toward what is “really going on.” We do need to face what is true in this stage, but the enemy would like us to fixate on it so we don’t ever get past it. Rather, the enemy would like to use the chaos to destroy the group. There is a way to avoid this.
Emptiness: This is where the heart attitude that Dwayne spoke of becomes critical. Dwayne pointed us to Paul as an example of someone who’s heart right toward his people, even though those very people where in a very dangerous place spiritually. Romans 9:1-5 shows Paul’s heart. He is so concerned for his people that he would sacrifice himself for them if it would do any good. But then we see the conviction of Paul’s deep faith in God. Romans 11:1 reveals that Paul, despite the fact that most of Israel rejected the gospel, is fully convinced that God will be faithful to God’s people. In fact, in this verse, Paul uses his own life as an example of God’s faithfulness and this is his assurance that God will not stop until all have been recovered.
We see in these passages that Paul deeply identified with his community. His love and concern for them are almost overwhelming. Paul, the man who proclaims that “to live is Christ and to die is gain” says here that he would be cut off from Christ for the sake of his people! That’s radical! Paul states it plainly in Romans 10:1 “Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.”
This is very far from being willing to leave the community when things get tough. Dwayne’s challenge to us is to adopt this heart for our own communities. If we do, we will reflect the love that Paul had for his community, we will identify the way Paul did with his people, and we will begin to have the radical faith that Paul had. Faith that fully trusts in the calling and activity of God among his people.
True community: When we have this sort of faith in each other and faith in God to see things through, true community emerges in response to our emptying ourselves for each other. We are deeply known by one another, both the good and the bad. And we trust in God’s good work in our midst to carry us together into a future we can’t even imagine!