My freshman year I learned a new definition of ‘waffling.’ Rumors had surfaced of a nefarious freshman hazing ritual. We did not know what or when, but we knew it was coming – something called ‘waffling.’ Then the distant late-night darkness separating upper class Pressley Hall and freshman Grier Hall was shattered by the tribal shouts of “Wa-ffle, Waaa-ffle, Waaaa-ffle!” Like the opening of Queen’s “We Will Rock You,” on they came.
Out of respect for ancient tradition and good taste, I am not at liberty to describe ‘waffling.’ But it involved tennis rackets, hair brushes, shaving cream, and the systematic capture of all freshmen males. But like much in life, the terror of anticipation was worse than the experience.
For most, however, the word ‘waffling’ carries far less sinister overtones, though perhaps more detrimental effects. The urban dictionary defines ‘waffling’ as
“Acting indecisively, unable to make up one’s mind; playing the safe middle ground due to one’s own lack of conviction or sense of morality.”
We often associate waffling with political candidates, who promise one thing to one group, then something contrary to another. They adopt one position until challenged, then retreat to another. Wafflers say what others want to hear and do what others want done. They have no conviction except to gain approval. Commitments are guided by ‘what works’ not ‘what do I believe is true.’
Real leaders are ‘thermostats’ who change their environment. Wafflers are ‘thermometers,’ who merely read and reflect the temperature of the room. Unlike statesmen, who act for the next generation, waffling politicians think only of the next election. But while political waffling is disingenuous and disappointing, when someone close to us waffles on an important commitment it is devastating. We have all been the victim of a waffler. Or perhaps we have waffled putting approval above conviction.
King Zedekiah, was a waffler. He was not a man to be trusted. He went back on virtually every promise he made in Scripture. But he aptly reflected his kingdom. Judah was a kingdom of wafflers. They had more gods than towns and more altars than streets. They sought approval from whoever would offer it. Everyone that is except from the Lord their God. Persistently the Lord sent prophets to call them to return, but they were not returners. They were wafflers. Offering flocks and herds and rivers of oil in sacrifice, but never a change in their hearts or lives.
Jeremiah prophesied that God would judge them for their waffling. And at last judgement came. With Nebuchadnezzar’s vast allied army besieging Jerusalem and the homes of the leading citizens bulldozed to shore up the city walls, it seemed at last that the people’s hearts were yielding to the Lord’s call to return. At a moment of great danger, Zedekiah committed to a course of repentance, going so far as to issue his own emancipation proclamation to the enslaved Jews in Jerusalem. Like the Ninevites in Jonah’s day, God’s threatened judgement seemed to be rending hearts, not just garments.
But Zedekiah was the king of the wafflers. When Nebuchadnezzar temporarily lifted the siege to engage an approaching Egyptian army, Judah waffled. They revoked the emancipation proclamation and returned their brothers and sisters to slavery. Their repentance was only a farce, what the apostle Paul would later call ‘worldly sorrow’ rather than ‘godly sorrow.’ Concerned only with worldly consequences, rather than eternal offenses. But God takes covenant breaking and false repentance seriously. The consequence of their false repentance would serious – deadly serious.
What about you? Are you a waffler? The call to follow Christ begins with the call to repent. When Jesus began his ministry, he “came proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, … the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the gospel.” (Mark 1:14-15) And the first of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses asserted “when our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ‘Repent’ (Mt 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.” Repentance, turning to God, is at the heart of the Christian life. But false repentance, is no repentance at all. Waffling when God calls us to repent, brings only judgement. But how can we tell false repentance from true repentance?
Join us this week as we examine Jeremiah 34 and consider some of the marks of a false repentance. We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm in The Commons at St. Andrews Anglican Church at 8300 Kanis Rd in Little Rock for worship. Get directions here or contact us for more info. You can also join us on Facebook Live @RiverCityARP.