Guest post by Joel Varner //
You can usually tell you’re going to hear something pretty horrible when someone uses the word “but.” For example, when someone says, “I’m not racist, but…” I know that I’m going to be treated to some horribly racist comments. When I try to explain that what they said was actually very racist, they look back at me confused saying, “But I told you I wasn’t racist!”
The problem with using the “but” word is that whatever you say after the “but” usually negates whatever you just said before the “but.” It completely changes the meaning of your statement.
I’ve also heard the “but” word being used a lot when Christians talk about the gay community. Many Christians assure me, “I love gay people, but…” and then I’m treated to some horribly unloving comments. When I try to explain that what they said was actually very unloving, they look back at me angrily saying, “But I told you that I love gay people!”
If we are using “buts” when we’re talking about how we love people, then maybe we don’t really know what love is. If I tell my wife, “Honey, I love you, but…” she’s only going to hear what I say after the “but” and my statement of love is completely negated. She doesn’t feel loved and I’m not truly loving her.
Imagine if Jesus’ love for us had “buts” in it. John 3:16 would read, “For God so loved the world, but…” God’s love wouldn’t be so loving if it had conditions. But there are no “buts” in God’s love. Instead, Jesus tells us, “For God so loved the world, that…” God loves us so much that He died for us. No conditions for His love on our part, just loving action on His part, for both those who believe and those who don’t. God proves His love for us with all that He did for us.
That’s because love doesn’t have any “buts.” True love is unconditional and accepts you as you are. It doesn’t have any exceptions, conditions, or stipulations. True love is, “I love you.” Period.
And what if we went beyond just “I love you” and show people that we love them. What if we didn’t have any conditions on our love for others, just loving actions for them on our part…like God does for us.
Now I know what you’re going to say. “But if we accept them unconditionally, aren’t we condoning their sinful behavior?” “But if we don’t stand for God’s righteousness, who will?” “But if we don’t tell them they’re wrong, how will they know the truth?”
See how many buts we have?
If we’re telling the world, “God loves you, but…” then they will only hear what we say after the “but” and the truth of God’s love is completely negated.
What if we stopped being a bunch of buts? What if we started really showing the world that we loved them? Period.
Joel Varner has served in ministry for the past 15 years. He is a pastor in Albany, Oregon equipping and training missional community leaders. Joel works with his wife Brenna, of 13 years, and their two daughters. You can find him on Facebook.