Christians got big ole buts

December 4th, 2014

I remember a seminary class where our professor once told us to leave our buts out of our apology. I'm glad he clarified what he said because I was getting weird mental images. He explained that when we apologize, just leave it at "I'm sorry" and do not add a "but."

You know, like "I'm sorry, but it's really your fault." Or, "I'm sorry, but you made me do it."

Are we really sorry? Our buts totally negate our attempted apology. They usually start another fight rather than resolving the situation.

Similarly, last year for Thanksgiving, I shared with my congregation that when we count or name our blessings throughout the entire year (and not just Thanksgiving) we should leave out our buts.

This is prevalent in my culture. With our desire to remain modest and humble, accepting a blessing without a hint of apology might come off as offensive or being better than our neighbor. But I also notice this in people who are not of the Korean-American culture. When someone is congratulated on becoming a new homeowner, for example, they sometimes respond with something like, "Yes, but it needs a lot of work."

Or, "You must be ecstatic about your new promotion!"
"I am... but it just means a lot more hours and time away from home."

Or, "Oh my! Congratulations on your newborn daughter!"
"Yea... but she looks like my husband."

We want to remain humble so we sometimes seem to go out of our way to minimize a great blessing that God has bestowed upon us.

Of course, there's a fine line between being grateful and rubbing it in the face of our friends, family and neighbors. But we need to find ways to stop discounting our blessings and to be thankful for what God has given us. And to remember the call to be a blessing to others.

There's another area that's probably best to leave our buts out of.

Earlier this year, the band Magic! exploded to the music scene with their song "Rude." It's about a young man asking his girlfriend's father for her hand in marriage. The father tells him "No" and the young man asks, "Why you gotta be so rude" and says that he'll "marry her anyway."

Someone made a cover of that song from the father's perspective and it went viral. In the song, the father sings that if the young man does indeed marry her anyway, "I'm going to punch you in the face" and "I'll make you go away/in the bottom of a lake."

Then he adds this line: "I may be a Christian/but I'll go to prison/I'm not scared of doing hard time."

Now I know that this song is tongue-in-cheek (and admittedly, I did find his cover funny) but that one line has stuck with me for months.

So many of us have negated our confession of being a Christian with a but — whether through our words or our actions. And I confess, my buts are big as anyone else's.

How many times have I negated my Christian confession with what seems like a harmless but?

... but I'm going to do it anyway.
... but I'm going to take this slight offense and make it into a mountain and hold onto it forever.
... but I'm sure no one's watching.

I find myself often living a disintegrated life because my confession of being a Christian is far different from my life as a Christian.

God's spirit should flow through me freely, but instead, I put up compartments and trap doors to block or redirect the flow of the Spirit. Because I like saying uncalled-for and mean things. Because I like being lazy and undisciplined. Because I like blaming everyone else for my mistakes.

As a Wesleyan Christian, I believe that I'm on a journey toward sanctification — toward being perfected in Christian love — toward being holy as God is. To do this, I need to live a fully integrated life where my heart, soul, strength and mind are aligned with God's Spirit. The easy place to start, at least for me, is to not let my big buts get in the way.

To stop at "I'm sorry." To be thankful for my blessings without qualification. And to live up to my confession of being a disciple of Christ without undermining that confession.

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