May our hearts be broken by the things that break the heart of God


Jesus and the childrenI had already written this set of blog posts about the released “State of American Children” report when the news came out on Saturday that Michael Dunn avoided being found guilty of 1st degree murder in the killing of Jordan Davis. He was found guilty of three counts of attempted second-degree murder, and will almost certainly do serious time for that. But it still came across as a “hollow victory” (in the words of Tonyaa Weathersbee), and leaves many feeling a deep sense of grief as they make sense of what this means and represents.

Though there is not a straight line between the murder of Jordan Davis and the reality of 1 in 5 children living in poverty, I think there is a clear principle that is true for all of us in both cases.

The former post built off of a passage in Matthew 18 that talks about the “scandal” of harming children. Here Jesus uses incredibly charged language to describe how serious he is about this:

“Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come! If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.” (Matthew 18.5-9)

The first thing that jumps out to me about this passage is the incredibly harsh language Jesus uses to describe not only his protective spirit of little ones, but also how he feels about those who commit atrocities against them. Large millstone. Hung around their neck. Drowned in the depths of the sea. Cut off the hand that causes them to stumble. Gouge out the eyes. He doesn’t talk like this about anything or anyone else.

The second thing that jumps out to me about this passage is the level of shock and discomfort that must have come over the disciples in that moment. First off, Jesus never talked like this, so that alone must have been unsetting. But I think an even bigger question must have seized them in that moment:

“What in the world does this have to do with us?”

Wouldn’t you be asking that? Even if they could get past the fact that the Prince of Peace just said it would be better for a perpetrator to be drowned in an ocean than harm a child… what did that have to do with them? None of them was on probation for having harmed a child. None of them was guilty of the offense that Jesus was pronouncing judgement on.

So why is he telling them? What did he want from them?

I think the answer can be found in this great quote from Bob Pierce, the founder of World Vision:

“Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God.”

I believe that this interaction between Jesus and the disciples was for a singular purpose: Jesus was inviting his closest circle to have their hearts be broken by the things that break the heart of God.

Injustice, oppression, harming the innocent and vulnerable – these were the things that broke the heart of God, and by proxy, broke the heart of Jesus.

If that’s the case, then this text is incredibly relevant to each one of us.

When we hear that one out of five children in our country lives in poverty, our hearts should be broken by the things that break the heart of God.

When we hear that an angry white man fired 10 shots into a car full of black teenagers for playing their music too loud, our hearts should be broken by the things that break the heart of God.

There are many thoughts swirling around in my heart and head today, but I keep finding myself coming back to this simple prayer. I wish it to be as true for myself as I do for you.

“Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God.”

Follow @danielhill1336

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One thought on “May our hearts be broken by the things that break the heart of God

  1. Pingback: America’s 5th Child [series recap] | Daniel Hill's Blog

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