Everyone knows the difference between a uniting conjunction and a contrasting conjunction. And, puts two thing of equal value together in a sentence. “Repent and be baptized” in Acts 2:38 puts two things of equal value together to bring about the “remission of sins”. But, is used to contrast things that don’t go together. I won’t insult your English 101 training by giving you an example, but I will continue to talk about it. (Yes, that’s a joke! Sorry!)
It’s dangerous to use “and” to add something to God’s will we don’t have the authority or right to add. For the same reason, we can’t stick “but” into something God clearly wants us to do or be, just because we don’t want to do what God commands. I would enjoy giving a list of examples, BUT – let’s just agree that we can’t say “Yes, but” to ANY clear and direct command from God! “Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.” Yes, but… “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Yes, but… After Jesus told the powerful story about a Samaritan who had compassion on a Jewish traveler who had been beaten and left for dead, and who had been ignored by the Priest and Levite, he made his point about who we are neighbors to and said, “Go and do likewise.” Yes, but… BUT WHAT? It’s His will, His command, and His expectation of His disciples! There is no YES, BUT!
In our study of ONE YET DIFFERENT, we have been hammering a clear biblical foundation for how God’s family MUST deal with social, cultural, and historical differences. One of our core foundation verses has been 1 Peter 4:8, “Above all, love one another deeply because love covers over a multitude of sins.” We can’t read that command and then add “Yes, but” after it. “Above all” means it’s the most important thing we do! Love one another deeply means it’s not surface or pretend – it’s real and committed! The fact that real love destroys the sins that separate us from one another means that it is absolutely non-negotiable with God. It’s an absolute and “Yes, but” has no place being added to the end of it.
Whatever our struggles may be, when it comes to building unity, we must not let Satan slip that “Yes, but” into our thinking. It’s more than just a simple attempt to rationalize our thinking, it’s ignoring and abusing God’s Word and God’s will. “Above all” means we honestly seek to rise above what the world tells us about differences and we begin looking at one another with the eyes and heart of Jesus.