As I’ve studied the New Testament this year, I have had a truth testified to me over and over again. God doesn’t see people the same way you do. God cares about one thing; how much love we have in our hearts. Every society has its throw-away people. I’ve heard them called, the near dead. They are the ones that we turn our eyes away from. In the Savior’s day they were the lame, the blind, and the leprous. Likewise, the publicans and the harlots occupied the fringes of society. Just close enough to be of use, but not so close as to tarnish the reputations of the hypocrites who exploited them. They cast them out, despised them, and blamed them for their problems. The disciples asked, “Did this man sin or his parents that he was born blind?” We want to believe that we have some control over the circumstances of our lives. No one wants to end up as a throw-away person. It is comforting to think that we have the power to prevent ourselves from suffering such a fate.
Today we have our near dead; our throw away people. Most of them are mentally or emotionally ill. They walk the streets of our cities, fill our homeless shelters, stand in line at our soup kitchens. They strip in our clubs, they sell their bodies, they inhabit our jails and prisons. They are enslaved to the substances they have become addicted to. They are victimized, abused, and forgotten by friends and family. It is so easy to do as the disciples in Jesus’s day did and ask, “Did this person sin or was it his or her parents that he is mentally ill, that he is addicted to substances, that she is stripping in a club?” It is comforting to think that someone is to blame for the unfortunate circumstances these miserable people find themselves in. This judgment calms our fear that we or someone we care about might end up there.
The Lord commands us to exercise righteous judgement. He showed us the way when he was confronted with a situation where an adulterous woman came to him, wept on his feet, washed them and dried them with her hair. I imagine the connection those two must have had in that moment. The near dead woman, and her Savior……as she expressed her love and he forgave her sins. I can hardly imagine a more tender and sacred scene. And the Pharisee and master of the house missed it! In his concern for rule following and building a hedge around the Law of Moses, and seeing with his fallen mortal eyes, he thought the Savior was in error. The Savior tried to help him see. He explained that a person who is forgiven much loves more than someone who is forgiven little!
Now there is an irony! Those who find themselves trapped and tormented by serious sin in turn have a greater love and adoration for the Savior who delivers them. If all God really cares about is how much love we have in our hearts, the throw away people have a greater spiritual potential than anyone else. So ironically, the publicans and harlots that were healed by the Savior in His day had hearts full of love and gratitude to the Savior. They were allowed into the Kingdom of Heaven. In contrast, the outwardly righteous Pharisees and Sadducees were shut out. Why? Because the Pharisees and Sadducees didn’t love Him. They didn’t need Him. They didn’t ask for His forgiveness and so their sins remained.
In exercising righteous judgment, perhaps we need to cast out our fear. Perhaps we need to let go of the need to assign blame to “this man or his parents.” Perhaps the existence of the near dead and the throw away people of our society is so that God can show forth the glory of His power to save; to exalt those who have been cast down and rejected of men. Think of the possibilities! This is maybe my favorite video that the church has put out.
I love the look on her face as she talks about the moment when she saw the sister missionaries and she knew that her prayers had been heard and answered. How much love did she feel for her Savior in that moment? Like the woman who washed the Savior’s feet, her love was greater because of her sins. Because she loved Him, she was saved. This woman’s story inspires me, as do all the stories of those who have survived the horrors that this world has thrown at them and managed to find their path to salvation.
One of my spiritual gifts is faith. I honestly and truly believe that God can do anything. I believe that the only thing that keeps us from having his will realized is our own lack of faith. I know that my Savior has the power to save. It doesn’t matter how shabby your life, what is in your past, or whether or not you are accepted by your fellow men. In fact, if you find your heart is broken and your spirit is contrite, you just might be on the path to salvation. You might find your heart is full of more love and more light than any of the “righteous people,” who judge you as unworthy. In the end, the Lord just might see you as more fit for his kingdom than they are! Its happened before.
It always used to confuse me when I read in the scriptures, “And the last shall be first, and the first shall be last.” What?? The Lord’s ways are circuitous and convoluted. He doesn’t follow societal rules of fallen man. He is no respecter of persons. I am still working on understanding the ways He finds to bless His children, but one thing is certain. God doesn’t see people the way I do. God sees the heart, and that is all that matters to Him.