Force for Change

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How do we shift from an “in the way" mentality? Here's a simple, one-word answer: Love.

I’ve noticed that I like dangerous people: Nelson Mandela, Teddy Roosevelt, Moses, Jesus, MLK, Jr., Jason Bourne, Katniss Everdeen. All of these people were agents for change wherever they went. Even though they were all different – some obviously fictional – they brought to change to situations that needed change.

As I think about these people’s lives, of course the life of Jesus really comes to the forefront. He was dangerous for good – dangerous for the people He interacted with during His life, and also for my good 2000 years later. For those of us who align ourselves with Him, we know there are some characteristics to his life that we can, and should, imitate. As cliche as it may sound, the major characteristic is love. 

One story I think of when I think of love, is the story that Jesus told of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). The Good Samaritan experienced someone in his way and made a choice to love even when it wasn’t easy, neat, or cheap.

We’ve all experienced people being in our way. Maybe we were looking for a parking spot in a parking lot, and someone decided to walk really slow as they walked in front of us… texting! Or maybe someone delayed our lives when they drove too slowly in front of us. How about the times when the server at the restaurant is slow in bringing us our food?

Don’t these people know we are important and have something to do!? We have places to go, people to see, and “bidness” to take care of!

For the record, they kind of are in our way, but we don’t have to view them as a nuisance. When we view people as in our way, it reveals the worst part of us, an underlying mindset that says, “I’m not getting what I want when I want it, and therefore this person gets the blame!”

With an “in the way” mindset, we never have the impact we’re searching for in life.  People are obstacles to overcome. They are made less important than me. My bringing change into the world begins to be about what I can do, not who I can help.

How do we shift away from an “in the way mentality?” It’s a simple one-word answer: Love.

The Good Samaritan stumbled onto a traveler who’d been robbed, beaten, and left for dead. Religious people didn’t want to help him. He was in their way. But because the Good Samaritan showed love, he brought change. How did he show love?

First, he got off his donkey (I heard this in a sermon somewhere). The first time I heard that phrase, I thought “I can’t wait to use that in church!” Love is not just some soft, esoteric feeling. Love is an action word. It is touchable and tangible.  If we are to actually love people, and not just say we love them, we have to get off our donkey.

We can think we want to change the world, but unless we do something to help people, our “good intentions” are useless. The Good Samaritan dude did something. He helped. It was inconvenient. It was messy. It cost money. It cost time.

Next, he got off his high horse. 3 religious people walked by the mangled traveler and wouldn’t even look at him because they had other plans. He would have made them unclean and late!

So, their response was the same as some religious folks today – they boycotted the man. Not gonna cross the street to help him, not gonna touch him, not gonna even get close enough to accidentally be associated with him.

Hey, we all have our prejudices, people that we don’t want to associate with. When we don’t engage them, this is effectively a boycott. The difficulty in love is loving people that you normally boycott (see Jesus words on loving our enemy). If you want to be dangerous you better get ready to get off your high horse and push through the prejudices.

I’ve got a long way to go. God is teaching me more and more how to love my way to dangerous. It isn’t cheap or clean. But it sure seems to fuel change wherever I’m able to love someone towards Jesus.

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