25 June 2016

THE «YES, BUT» SYNDROME

XIII SUNDAY OF THE YEAR
1 kings 19:16b, 19-21; galatians 5:1, 13-18; luke 9:51-62

in his book «games people play», eric berne talks about the «why don’t you… yes but» game that many people play. people start by lamenting a problem but find excuses for every solution offered. for instance… 
white: «my husband always insists on doing our own repairs, and he never builds anything right.»
black: «why doesn’t he take a course in carpentry?» white: «yes, but he doesn’t have time.» blue: «why don’t you buy him some good tools?» white: «yes, but he doesn’t know how to use them.»
red: «why don’t you have your building done by a carpenter?» white: «yes, but that would cost too much.» 
brown: «why don’t you just accept what he does the way he does it?» white: «yes, but the whole thing might fall down.»


many of us suffer from the «yes, but…» syndrome. we are ready to get down to our books, start that much-postponed project, begin changing our behaviour, take on the world, and maybe even climb mount everest, but…

in the gospel, the anonymous trio of would-be followers are «yes-butters».
the first is enthusiastic to follow JESUS, who cautions him that he must be ready for a tough life without basic necessities and be prepared to identify with the poor.
the second and third are ready to follow JESUS but want to fulfil their family obligations first.
JESUS’ admonitions seem harsh. however, he is clear that following him and carrying out his mission requires single-minded commitment. he sets the example himself: «he resolutely determined to journey to jerusalem». nothing took priority over his mission. interestingly, in the garden of gethsemane, JESUS reverses the «yes, but…» syndrome. he asks the FATHER to «remove this cup from me, but not my will but yours be done» (luke 22:42)!

in what areas of my life am i a «yes-butter»? 
i need to heed paul’s advice to the galatians to «live by the SPIRIT» to overcome the «yes, but…» syndrome.