On Saturday night, Carlos Whittaker tweeted:
Worship leaders. Don’t pray for hands up this weekend. Anyone can stretch. Pray for lives changed.
— Carlos Whittaker (@loswhit) October 28, 2012
But before he tweeted that, he had a small typo (that sadly, I did not screen capture). In his first tweet, Los invited worship leaders to “pray for loves changed.”
I’ll be honest, I prefer the typo version.
In our churches, we talk a lot about our lives being changed or we talk about changing lives.
And in order to do that, we give our lists of rules. Dos and Don’ts that will make you a better person. Neatly packaged clichés that lead us to be neatly packaged Christians.
One time an expert of the Law asked Jesus how he might inherit eternal life. Jesus turned the question back on him and asked him what the rules said. The teacher correctly quoted from the Law that said he should love the Lord with all his heart and love his neighbor as himself. Jesus told him that he was correct.
But the teacher wanted to make sure he was following the right rules. His answer was neat, but perhaps it could be neater. So he asked Jesus just who was his neighbor.
Jesus went on to tell a story about a man who was beaten and left by the side of the road to die. He was passed over by the people with the neatly packaged clichés. The respectable people. The ones who you would expect to exhibit love.
And he was helped by the Samaritan. The one who was not respectable. The one who was his enemy.
That person was his neighbor.
But to become that, his love had to change.
The Samaritan could no longer look at the person on the side of the road as an enemy or a threat or a drain on his time and resources, but rather, he had to see him as a neighbor. As someone who he would go out of his way to assist. As someone he would inconvenience himself to help.
The man on the road could no longer look at the one offering help as an “other,” but rather had to see him as his help and his chance at life. He had to choose to see him as his brother rather than as an opponent.
Both of their lives were changed, but first, their loves were changed.
We have seen the person on the side of the road.
Someone who has been beaten. Someone who has had that which was valuable taken from them. Someone who has been left for dead.
In these moments, the rules don’t work. The tidy answers don’t help. The clichés fall short.
In these moments, in order to fulfill the law, we need our loves to be changed.