Points to Ponder/“WADITWAH: A God We Know So Well”
by Pastor Dennis Whitmore
When the scriptures shine a light on areas of our lives, which are out of line and/or need to be stopped and redirected, many Christians will call on WADITWAH. They lift up his name: “We’ve Always Done It That Way, Ah Huh.”
We get to loving our traditions, becoming comfortable with a religion that does not challenge us to strive for “the upward call” (Phil 3:12-16). We treat God and His church as if they are here to serve us, to fill our needs, and to “feed me.” Everyone wants to enjoy the buffet, but few are willing to do the dishes. We love our denominations, our buildings, and how it’s always been. Even if it is killing us.
I have found Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life to be a useful tool to challenge Christians and their churches to get back to the Bible as the primary authority for living. God speaks through His Word and often it is tough to hear! But, if we call ourselves God’s people or “followers” of Jesus, we ought to be following Him and the Word by which He guides us.
I have heard of certain leaders in declining denominations criticize Pastor Warren and others like him. One of the key reasons that the “mainline” denominations are in decline is because they have drifted away from preaching, teaching, and submitting to the authority of scripture. Let them disagree, but Jesus said that you judge the tree by its fruits; and some of those older trees have not borne fruit for years.
What we find in churches today is a continual compromising and assimilation into the culture. Church attendance is irrelevant to a lot of people because the average person sees little difference between those on the inside and those on the outside of the church.
There are however many faithful people, committed to studying the Word and serving the Lord where they are. There are faithful pastors in churches large and small who do dig into the Word and preach and teach it. I cite Rick Warren’s writings because his work has been a tool that has caused me to revisit the basics of church as the BODY of Christ. Again, as Jesus said, we must judge the fruit in order to know the character of the tree (Matt. 7:15-20). God uses people to deliver the message - even those whose style, appearance, or (oh yes) denomination, is different from ours.
As someone once said, some people love their denomination (or particular church) more than they love Jesus. To me that’s just another sign of the biblical illiteracy of the laity and the laziness of the clergy. It is hard work - and often unpleasant - to dig deep into the scripture and tell people the stuff they do not want to hear. For instance, I had a couple cancel their wedding plans with me (not the wedding, but me), because they were offended by my references to cohabitation and premarital sex as sin. So be it.
The term “church” literally means, “called out ones.” Members of the body of Christ are called to be different, abiding by the scriptures as our guidelines for righteous living. The purpose for living a “holy” life, a life set apart unto God, is to be a light to help draw people out of darkness toward freedom in the light. Throughout both the Old and New Testaments, the purpose of God’s people is to be a blessing - that the world may know God through how we live among them. (cf John 15:18-21 & 17:14-26)
WADITWAH often carries the appearance of serving the Lord, but often we are serving an image of God, which we created to suit ourselves. I see this in the form of denominational pride, as if God only speaks through that group. Non-denominational churches fall into this pride thing too. Paul refers to this in First Corinthians as a form of carnality, which is the exhibition of our spiritual immaturity. He writes:
“Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly - mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?” (I Cor. 3:1-3 NIV)
To paraphrase verse 4, he says, “For when one says I am a United Methodist, and another I am a Baptist, (or an independent, or follow some radio preacher, etc. etc.) are you not mere men?” He goes on to say that God has given each leader, preacher, pastor, a certain task. Denominations and independent churches, if they are in fact serving Jesus Christ, are His servants. Some are called to bring the Word and to touch souls within those structures; others are called to reach souls in other places and by other means.
So the question for YOU is “Am I where God has called me to be BECAUSE God has called me to be there?” If you pre-qualify your answer with stories of how you were raised, that you were baptized there, your grand mom is buried in the yard, or whatever other earthly reason you can come up with - you are not answering the question!
DID Jesus Christ call you to be THERE? And if He did and you know it, are you DOING what HE called you to do in that place? Check your loyalties and your earthly reasons. Christ shares His throne with no one.
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Whitmore serves God at the First United Methodist Church in Laurel, MD.