December 7, 2009

The Curious Case of "Yeah, But…"

We’re well into Advent and I imagine most churches are seeing an increase in attendance as folks try to get “in the spirit.” Pews are more crowded, parking spaces harder to come by. And come Christmas Eve, it’ll be standing room only in some churches as all gather near to get a glimpse of the babe in the manger.

But, come back on January 3 and you might get a whole row to yourself. Quickly forgotten like the present wanted so badly as a child, but cast aside once received, the reality of Jesus isn’t quite so appealing as the expectation of Him—adorned in beloved Christmas music, sparkly lights and festive trimmings.

C&E Christians, as they’re called, fill churches to overflowing on Christmas and Easter but stay away the rest of the year. I know these people well—because for many years I was one of them. Filled with a sense of tradition, familiarity and sentimentality I never missed a Christmas Eve service. But I couldn’t be bothered to return in January…or February…or March (unless it was Easter).

Yet even though I stayed away 50 out of 52 Sundays, I think I (and most C&Eers) went for one reason. There was something about the baby that made me want to believe. But time and again the “yeah buts” got in my way and I couldn't.

We all have our own "yeah, buts." They’re the roadblocks thrown up that block our path of faith, cause us to detour and sometimes keep us from even getting started. Faced with the truth of Jesus doubt/intellect/fear/pride replies, “Yeah, but.”

Yeah, but…
…Christianity is only one way of many ways to get to God.
…It was easier for the disciples to believe because they saw Jesus.
…A loving God wouldn’t allow so much suffering.
…The Bible was written so long ago and doesn’t really apply to life today.
…I’m a good person.
…I’ve done things that God could never forgive.
…I can be a Christian and not go to church.
…I have nothing special to  offer.
…I’ve stayed away too long.
…I’m too busy to go to church on Sunday/attend a small group/volunteer/read my Bible.

For so long I felt an inner tug toward Jesus, but couldn’t get past my “yeah buts.” Yet God didn’t give up on me. Eventually He brought me to a place where I could set aside my biggest roadblock—my skepticism. When I did, He gave me eyes to see and I met Jesus as if for the very first time. Seven years later I can’t imagine life any other way.


I don’t know what “yeah buts” block your path this Christmas season, but I know you're not alone. Think about Mary and Joseph. They navigated obstacles of all sorts as they journeyed to Bethlehem. And so will we.

Faith isn't easy. There’s a lot about God that’s fuzzy and hard to understand. But some things are crystal clear. God, the creator of the universe, all-powerful, all-knowing, all-everything, didn’t just snap His fingers and make it so, He came down to earth as a helpless little baby to live among us. To be one of us. And He didn’t chose royalty as would have been fitting, He chose common, overlooked, lowly. All because He loves us.

Doesn’t this blow your mind?

But, the hope and excitement of the baby is just the beginning of the story. To pay our respects and leave Bethlehem is to miss the best part. Jesus was born, lived and died for you…and for me—no matter who we are, when we live or what we’ve done (for better or worse).

ALL have sinned.
ALL are invited to receive the gift of Jesus.
ALL are forgiven.
ALL will have eternal life.

“This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:23-24)

Amazing grace. It’s a gift we can’t earn and one we don’t deserve. But when we accept it, there’s no “yeah buts” about it!

14 comments:

Saleslady371 said...

I went to church all my life growing up in a religious home, but oh boy...when I met Jesus personally, I fell so in love with Him I thought it was sacrilegious. And celebrating Christmas with this Jesus was so different than just going to church!

Terri Tiffany said...

Well-written awesome post!! You sure know how to give the gospel!

Analisa said...

WONDERFUL!!!!!

Cheryl Barker said...

So glad you were able to get past your yeah-buts, Kelli -- and I'm thankful I came to faith in Christ as a child. I'm afraid if I hadn't, I might be stuck in a yeah-but even now. So thankful for His amazing grace!

Susan S said...

From "C&E" to "Alpha and the Omega," we are so blessed to be with you on that journey.

Justin said...

Kelli,

i LOVE this blog entry! as a pastor, i laughed knowingly at your opening paragrphs. thanks for blessing me with your thoughts. i look forward to reading future entries.

merry christmas, kelli! :)

Psalm 73:25, Justin

BTW, i ADORE that picture of the Regan girls! give a kiss to Tess for me!

Laura aka Lolo said...

That was so awesome! I want to share your post with my friends so beautifully and yet simply put. thank you :)

Laura aka Lolo said...

oh so sorry I forgot I blogged about your message too
http://lolobye5.blogspot.com/

Ginny said...

Fantastic!! preach on, Sister. Good job presenting the gospel.Keep up the good work.(o:

groverdflorian said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Julie Gillies said...

Hi Kelli,

Your post has such a sweet feeling, an inviting appeal. And really, that's what the gospel is, isn't it? Sweet, simple, inviting.

Praying all who read this will lay down their excuses and come to Him.

Beautiful!

Sue J. said...

It is a journey whether you are "on the path" yet or not. The road isn't clearly marked and the star of Bethlehem doesn't always seem to be shining so we can see our destination.

But, that is the whole point of faith, isn't it? As surely as Joseph led his wife and donkey, God is leading us forward. We do not have His wisdom to understand the circumstances, the arrangements, the long-range plans--but He gave us eyes to see and feet to walk and a heart to be filled with His Spirit....and that's enough.

Joy to the world, the LORD is come! Let every heart prepare Him room....

apowers said...

great post!

Irritable Mother said...

I'm so thankful God is BIG ENOUGH to get past our 'yeah but's.