Everyone Has a Big But

It’s a line from Pee-wee Herman in his movie Pee-wee’s Big Adventure… and it doesn’t mean that all of us have gigantic backsides, although it sounds pretty funny when you think of the possible double meaning! He’s trying to explain something to his friend Simone and the conversation goes like this:

Simone: I know you’re right, Pee-wee, but…

Pee-wee: But what? Everyone I know has a big “But….

This isn’t the word butt, rather b-u-t. The one small, three-letter word that has all the power to dismiss, discount and disregard everything that came before it. People can hear the truth, they can be given all the guidance, direction and wisdom that they need to live right and make the proper choices. Yet in the quick and swift utterance of this one word,  believe they’ve exempted themselves and that they are not required to heed the truth. After all, their big but quickly erases everything.

Here are a few examples of what I’m talking about.  A young Christian couple that I know is fornicating their little brains out, comes to me and I dispense the biblical truth that what they are doing is totally against what God says. I show them the scripture that explains fornicators will not inherit the kingdom, sexual immorality is a sin in God’s eyes, and that according to Him, sex is only to happen in the confines of marriage. Then in one fell swoop, they say it: But we don’t feel like it’s wrong.

Another guy who is a believer is committing adultery; he thinks that he’s found his real soul mate so is divorcing his wife.  Again, I explain that this is absolutely contrary to what the Bible says and go through the verses just so he knows that this is God saying it, not Markie pulling it out of thin air. Then it happens again… the dude puts his big but in: But I truly believe God brought us together and wants us to be happy.

Let’s try one that is not about sexual sin.  In the Gospel of Luke there is an account of a man who asked Jesus what he needed to do in order to inherit eternal life. Jesus quizzed him on what the man thought the Law said, to which the man replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself.” The guy was quoting from the Old Testament, reciting what Jesus Himself referred to as the greatest commands.  Jesus told him that he was correct and continued saying, “Do this and you will live.”

Of course, the dude (like so many of us) wouldn’t take the Son of God at face value, so he proceeds to press Jesus with another question: Who is my neighbor? The Bible even says that the man did this because he wanted to justify himself. So Jesus proceeds to tell the well-known story of The Good Samaritan (see Luke 10:25-37) where a priest and a Levite—religious people—both passed by a man who had been beaten, robbed and left at the roadside to die. Finally, along comes the man who was a Samaritan (a group of people looked upon at the time as half a step below dogs). This man feels pity, stops and cares for the poor, dying guy, takes him to an inn, and even pays for all his needs and accommodations in full.

Jesus then asks the question, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” To which the “expert” in the law, the great religious man replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus then told him, “Go and do likewise”. I wonder if he did. It’s curious to note that it was the religious people who had no mercy in the story. They couldn’t stop, they couldn’t be bothered because maybe they were on the way to a board of elders meeting and couldn’t be late. Or perhaps they had an important prayer group to get to.

Okay, a bit lengthy of an explanation to get to the big but. As Christians, we are commanded by Jesus Himself to love others…notice He didn’t say, “know this and you will live”–He said “do this and you will live.” That means we don’t just think about love, talk about love, do a bible study about love, or know in our heads about love, it means we actually have to act in love toward others. It means we must love our crazy family members, our irritating spouse, our annoying neighbors, our mean co-workers, and our demanding boss. Not to mention the single moms, those people who are poor, struggling, less fortunate, homeless, old, ill and infirm.

As Christians we sit in churches Sunday after Sunday, year after year and hear the truth of this message proclaimed and then we put our big but in: But that husband of mine is so mean and hurtful—God would never expect me to be loving to him! But my wife doesn’t give me sex enough, therefore I can watch porn and masturbate to fill my need. But my father really hurt me, so I don’t have to forgive him for what he did. But my mother-in-law is so nasty, I don’t have to invite her over for the kids’ birthdays. But that idiot at work took credit for what I did on the project—it’s okay if I spread the rumor I heard about him. But we don’t have the money to give right now because we are going to Disney on vacation. But I can’t tithe because we have too many other expenses. But I am so busy. But my schedule doesn’t allow it. But I can’t volunteer on Wednesday because that’s American Idol night and I don’t have Tivo…and the buts keep getting bigger and bigger.

Come on, at least admit that you don’t want to follow the truth, that you intentionally choose to disregard the ways of God in lieu of your own thinking. Quit making excuses and acting like your big but is the trump card to the Word of Lord God Almighty. Be honest and say that it’s just too difficult to adhere to the “greatest command” and that you aren’t interested in dying to yourself, to your sin and selfishness. Come clean and say that you aren’t really feeling this whole “pick up your cross and follow Jesus” thing. But do not say, “Ooh, I just love the Lord, but I hate my stupid husband!” Do not claim to be a person of “strong faith” and justify your lack of financial giving with, “I need a fishing boat or a new car, but God really knows my heart.”

People, listen to me: Stop dragging your big buts around!  You need to get rid of them. I should put a big sign up in my church that says, “NO buts allowed!” So many Christians have these great big buts and use them as the justification or excuse to dismiss the commands of God. Seriously, you think that you will be able to wave your big buts around on judgment day? You think that God is going to stand and listen to your list of reasons why, as a believer, you discounted what He said? You are a delusional fool if you think that’s going to fly. The Bible clearly states: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” (Gal 6:7) …notice, there is no but at the end of that sentence!

As people of faith it’s time for us to be serious about living out what the Bible says. NO ifs, ands, or BUTS about it!

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3 Responses to “Everyone Has a Big But”

  1. Ronke Alao says:

    Mark I agree with you 150%! People should quit inserting God into their ‘buts’. It’s bad enough when they do something they know God isn’t happy about then go ahead and say “but God wants me to be happy and this makes me happy”. Marriage shouldn’t be about two people seeking happiness, it is about two people who are already happy and want to share their lives together. Also fulfulling the terms of the contract (vows).

  2. I like the name Brandon says:

    Okay so I have to ask this then, if I’m literally below the poverty line and in debt and I see an old man in a wheelchair at the bus stop while I’m driving (my parents’ car) down the road and this man is hunching over in his wheelchair and crying – and I live in a city of five million people and he is a total stranger and there are literally at least fifty of other cars passing him by every minute, and I’m late for work and behind schedule and this will probably end up in me getting fired and losing my job so that all of my debt repayments will fall behind and I will probably end up losing my family for this and wind up on the streets as a homeless person (with awful credit) am I obligated to pull over and stand my vehicle and occupy the lane next to the sidewalk annoying all the other “law abiding citizens” around me to ask this guy in the wheelchair what might be bothering him, or is that just insane and I am actually not obligated to die for every stranger who never even knew me on a hunch that they might be suffering because I love all of these random strangers as though they have been my lifelong best friends?

    Also is it love to keep working with a demanding boss who literally sells rotten goods that you sometimes have to clean maggots off of to hundreds of people in order to make a higher profit who doesn’t even let you eat lunch one hour past the time for your lunch break and makes a joke about it when you mention that you do have to eat lunch and then calls you rude for ignoring her when she tries to strike up a conversation pretending that it’s totally normal to forego letting her employee eat one hour past lunch time? And then tells you that she is telling you “as a mother” that it’s rude to ignore an adult (which, legally, you already are) when they’re speaking with you?

    Is it hate to get up and leave unannounced and never hand in a resignation and just never go to that job again?

    So I guess what I’m asking is, should I wait until I’m dead for you to approve of what I’m doing; and since that answer seems to be yes, and contradicts everything written (even) in the Bible, why do you think that’s love?

    Because I think there is a very real difference between, say, dealing with an abusive husband or wife (or being dead broke) and dealing with missing an episode of American Idol in the internet age when you don’t have TiVo.

    I also don’t think it’s really that bad to “admit I don’t want to follow the truth” when the reality is opposite of what I profess with my mouth anyway and, if we are to believe in God, we would also believe that God will not be mocked.

    Also, have you ever actually seen a person die on a cross?

    Inquiring minds want to know!

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