Author: Yolanda Watt | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2021-22
Estimated Reading Time: 6 min.
Mr. Dexter Wakefield opened his lecture with something Mr. Armstrong used to ask on Holy Days and Sabbaths: “Why are you here?”
Mr. Wakefield stated that we have quite a few reasons for being here—some excellent reasons and others that may not be so excellent. We may have primary, secondary, or even tertiary reasons as to why we are in the Church of God and in Living Education. Mr. Wakefield referenced 1 Chronicles 28:9, saying that God knows the intent of the thoughts of our heart, which goes deeply into our psychology.
Mr. Wakefield then asked a challenging question: “Why do some people leave the Church?” He revealed that, over the years, he has seen that those who leave the Church have lost their reason for being in it. If something happens that troubles or challenges us, having the right reasons for being in God’s Church can remind us of what we stand for. Examining our reasons for being in the Church, in order to prioritize the right reasons and become aware of the weak reasons, can strengthen our devotion to the Body of Christ.
Some Weak Reasons for Being in the Church
- I want to avoid the tribulation. Mr. Wakefield mentioned that some people may think that they will simply attend Church services when things get rough in the world—but “that’s an illusion.” It is going to be much harder to come to services then than it is now.
- I want to be a Philadelphian: If you have a small doctrinal disagreement that makes you feel more Philadelphian than another person, you might start to consider that other person Laodicean. Mr. Wakefield believes that true Philadelphians do not worry about being Philadelphian—rather, they are occupied with God’s truth and the Work. He went on to compare prideful people—those who think of themselves as Philadelphian while looking down on other members—to the practice of Judo, in which a small person is able to throw a larger person. The idea in Judo is not to resist the attacker, but to pull them farther in the direction they are already going and then throw them off balance. Satan does the same with a prideful person; that person can be easily deceived.
- I want to avoid the lake of fire: While it is good to have a bit of fear for the lake of fire, it should not be a primary reason for being in the Church. People who have an irrational fear of the lake of fire can be easily deceived and manipulated. Yes, we want to make sure we are not sinning willfully, but if avoiding the lake of fire is a person’s entire motivation, that person will be tripped up once doubt comes in.
- I want to get salvation: This is a great motivation to have, but when it is the only one, it may lead to a begrudging attitude toward the commandments of God. If someone has no love for the commandments, they may go along with an unbiblical change in doctrine that challenges the commandments. This is exactly what happened in the Worldwide Church of God. By contrast, God’s people learn to love His commandments and obey them from the heart.
- The Church is where my friends are: In John 15:12–17, we are commanded to love each other, and it is fine to want to be with our friends—but that should not be the main reason we are in the Church. If it is, and a friendship ends or a friend leaves the Church, our own reason for being here will be demolished.
- I want to be in a loving environment: If this is the primary reason for a person staying in the Church, that person will leave once another Church member offends them. It is good to be in a loving environment, but our reasons for being here must be stronger than that.
- I want intellectual stimulation: The problem with this reason is that those who are motivated by it always want to hear something new. Mr. Wakefield referenced Acts 17:18–21, explaining that we should go deeper in the truth, not move on to a different “truth.” He mentioned he has seen individuals spending quite a bit of time on the Internet looking for a new doctrine that contradicts the truth. Spiritual growth results not from always learning new “truth,” but in changing our hearts and our character.
- I want to be where a particular minister is: God provides spiritual services to his children through his true ministers and those who serve under those ministers. Everyone has their personal preferences, but if one minister is someone’s main reason for being in the Church, what happens if that minister leaves? We must remember that Christ does the Work and ministers occupy an office that Christ works through. We must also consider our brethren around the world, some of whom only see a minister a few times a year and have to rely on video sermons. Their reasons for being in the Church can be instructive to us.
- I’m comfortable here: Currently, many find attending with the Living Church of God to be stable and comfortable, but what happens when we have turmoil? After all, we will be hated during the end times. “If your priority is comfort and stability in the Living Church, then the end times are going to be tough for you,” stated Mr. Wakefield. Satan will focus his activities where God’s work and truth are.
Strong Reasons for Being in the Church
- I want to obey God and seek His Kingdom first: If we have genuine love for the real God and the truth revealed in His word, we will be rooted in a desire to stay amongst those who share that love.
- To learn the truth of God: Many eras of God’s Church did not have all of the truth and understanding that we have in the Church today. We must evaluate what is most important to us. The truth has been challenged in various times and it will be challenged again, so we all need to maintain a solid understanding of exactly what the Bible teaches.
- To be part of the Work of God: Christ is accomplishing through His Church the Work of proclaiming the Gospel of God’s Kingdom to the world, and we must recognize where that work is being done. In Ephesians 4:14–16, we are taught that we all have an important part in what the Church is doing.
It is important for us to consider our primary reasons for being in the Church, making sure that those reasons are strong. Wherever Christ is, His truth and His work will be, and this can serve as our guiding beacon. If we consider carefully why we are here, we can develop the conviction to stay with God’s truth and His work.