What I love about Jesus is that he invested his heart on people that were hated and despised by the majority. You cannot love like Jesus unless you give away your heart. The challenge for us is how do we invest our heart on those people who are perceived as lost causes? Those people who are not like us? Those people who have hurt other people and themselves.
Dorothy Day challenges us with this quote: “I really only love God as much as I love the person I love the least.”
Jesus constantly challenges us on the same theme, such as love your enemies and love your neighbour as yourself. The crux of the challenge is that if we don’t love the very least of those we know, then we really don’t love God. In the Book of Isaiah God says to the prophet that all your superficial worship, religious prayers and pious talk are worthless unless you truly love the lost in society.
To help us to really live out this challenge in our life, I want to look at how Jesus invested his heart on the woman who was caught in adultery (John 8:1-11). This woman is caught red handed and her fate is death by stoning. They ask Jesus what should be done to this woman. Here Jesus challenges every single one of us when he tells his audience, “Those who have not sinned cast the first stone.” No one could throw a stone at this woman and every stone was dropped.
Jesus wants us to realise that when you understand your own sinful nature, you will have a heart that reaches out to other sinful people. We often categorise Sins of the flesh, such as adultery, much worse than ‘Sins of the Spirit’. Every single one of us struggles with an unclean soul. These Sins have names such as pride, arrogance, self-righteousness and judgmentalism.
The people who were prepared to throw the stones thought it was possible to love God and despise people. They had no idea that their sin crippled their ability to love, which makes the Sins of the Spirit the most destructive sins of all. Today what stones do we need to put down to help us to love?
CS Lewis wrote “The sins of the flesh are bad, but they are the least bad of all sins. All the worst pleasures are purely spiritual: the pleasure of putting other people in the wrong, of bossing and patronizing, the pleasures of power, of hatred. For there are two things inside me, competing with the human self which I must try to become. They are the Animal self, and the Diabolical self. The Diabolical self is the worse of the two. That is why a cold, self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to hell than a prostitute.”
I have often been challenged by God whilst helping people whose sin is out in the open for all to see. How do I invest my heart to really love these people? I must understand the power of forgiveness that Jesus constantly showers on me every single day on my life. I must remember to constantly drop my stones of pride, judgement, gossip and cynicism (just to name a few).
Jesus finishes the story by telling the woman that she has been forgiven, but then she must go and sin no more. We have been forgiven, but to truly invest our hearts in people’s lives, we must be willing to look in the mirror, drop our stones and accept that we are totally dependent on the loving heart of Jesus.
When you invest your heart in the least of these, then you can say you love God