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But or And?

By Published On: September 14, 20210 Comments on But or And?


Skits for worship – performed by the communion table.

BUT withdraws away from the communion table.

AND approaches it.

“I love you – BUT your habits annoy me to distraction.”

“I love you very much, AND because I do, I’d like to work with you on our mutually annoying habits.”

“I love you – BUT you are too fat or too thin or too poor or too rich or too imperfect or too perfect for me.”

“I love you, AND I accept everything about you, AND I want to join you in growing and changing in positive ways.”

“I would help you with your problem, BUT I’m way too busy right now.”

“I’m busy with a project right now, AND when I’m done I will give you a hand.”

“I need you to wash my dishes, dig my ditches, and serve my food, BUT you are an illegal alien and you don’t deserve health insurance or unemployment benefits, and if you get deported it’s your problem.”

“We need to protect our borders, AND we need to enable undocumented people who have been here for years to get a pathway to citizenship and social benefits.”

“I’ll follow you, Jesus, BUT it’s just too much to ask me to give up my status or my privilege or my comforts when following you leads to such sacrifices.”

“I’ll follow you, Jesus, AND that means I’m willing to risk it all for the sake of divine love, AND I know you’ll be there for me when the going gets tough.”

The Christ within us turns our BUTs into ANDs.

What BUTs in your life need transformation into ANDs?

AGAINST withdraws from the communion table.

THROUGH approaches it.

“I’m going to fight AGAINST my (diabetes/cancer/heart disease/aging process) with (money, prayer, medicine, exercise, therapy) and I’m going to beat it!”

“I aim to live in as much health as I can, and use every available approach to be healed, and I aim to get THROUGH what ails me gracefully, no matter what the result.”

“I’m going to put up an emotional wall AGAINST my partner or relative or co-worker so that he or she can’t hurt or disappoint me any more.”

“I’m going to engage with my partner or relative or co-worker so that we can work THROUGH our conflicts.”

The Christ within us transforms AGAINST into THROUGH.

What are you fighting AGAINST, that you really need to go THROUGH?
FOR talks on a smartphone, moving away from communion table.

WITH approaches it.

“Hi honey! So you want to plant a vegetable garden in the backyard! I’m all FOR it. Oh! Incoming call! Catch you later!”

“I’ll plant that garden WITH you. When is a good time for both of us to start?”

“Hi! So you are running for city council! That is so great! I’m all FOR you! Oh! Incoming call! Catch you later!”

“I think you’ll make a great city council member. How can I work WITH your campaign?”

“Hi, Bill! So you’re having trouble with that term paper? No problem, Billy, I’ll call your tutor and I’m sure that for a little extra, she’ll write it FOR you. Oh! Incoming call! Catch you later!”

“Bill, I’d be happy to sit down WITH you and look over that term paper WITH you, and if you want some suggestions about how you might improve it, maybe I can help that way.”

“Thank you, Jesus for dying FOR my sins! All those years of acting like a jerk – you erased them FOR me! I promise that I’ll never sin again, but if I do, it sure is nice knowing you’ve taken care of it FOR me and that I get off scot-free from any consequences for the bad things I do! Oh! Incoming call! Catch you later!”

“Thank you, God, for reminding me, through the example and words of Jesus, that you are WITH me no matter how tough it gets, that you are WITH me when I fail to do the right thing and need forgiveness, that you WITH me, giving me inspiration to seek and to do the right thing, and that you are WITH me when others hurt me and lead me into forgiveness.”

The Christ within us transforms FOR into WITH.

How can you get from FOR to WITH?


Rev. Jim Burklo is the Senior Associate Dean of Religious and Spiritual Life at the University of Southern California.  An ordained pastor in the United Church of Christ, he is the author of seven published books on progressive Christianity, his latest book is Tenderly Calling: An Invitation to the Way of Jesus (St Johann Press, 2021).  His weekly blog, “Musings”, has a global readership.  He serves on the board of and is an honorary advisor and frequent content contributor for

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