Monday, September 10, 2012

Wishy One Day, Washy the Next?

The term “wishy-washy” has been around since the 1690s. Originally it meant “thin and watery,” and likely was just the word “washy.” So you might have said, “Wow, my tea is quite washy this afternoon,” meaning it had been “washed” with water. The “wishy” part was added for a bit of playful emphasis.

I can’t think of “wishy-washy” without thinking of good ol’ Charlie Brown. Here’s an exchange between him and Lucy from a 1965 comic strip:

Charlie Brown: Next year I'm going to be a changed person!
Lucy: That's a laugh, Charlie Brown.
Charlie Brown: I mean it! I'm going to be strong and firm.
Lucy: Forget it. You'll always be wishy-washy!
Charlie Brown: Why can't I change just a little bit? I'll be wishy one day and washy the next!

In our current worship series, “No Other Life But This,” the character of King Ahasuerus (or “Elvis,” if you prefer), gives us an example of what it means to be a “wishy-washy” leader. Every single time there is a decision to be made, he makes it based on the persuasion of others. There is never a time he takes a stand boldly on his own, based on what he knows is the right thing to do.

Sometimes I think we follow Jesus like that, too. We base our own faith completely on the influence of others, rather than our own unique perspective. Of course, I am not discounting the power of community and the profound importance of connection with others. Far from it.

In a passage discussing unity in the church, Ephesians chapter 4 puts it this way: “We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ…”

Is our discipleship “wishy one day and washy the next?” And what’s the difference between “wishy-washy” (with a negative connotation) and “open-minded” (with a positive connotation)? These questions and others will frame our worship at Campbell UMC this week - see y’all in church!

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