This story illustrates the importance of loving a "sinner". It is based on a Zen story. I adopted it to a Christian story (by, for example, changing "Zen Master" to "Priest") as I was writing to a Christian audience.

There was once a very popular priest. Due to his virtue & his skillful delivering of sermons, his church was always full.

There happened to be a thief among his congregation. This guy would steal every once in while a during service. Everytime he was caught, the priest would counsel him & then ask the congregation to forgive him.

This went on for a while until the congregation got sick of this thief. On one particular day, a church leader, representing the congregation, issued an ultimatum to the priest. Either he expels the thief or the entire congregation would leave.

The priest answered, "Then all of you, please leave". He then explained to the shocked crowd, "All of you know that stealing is wrong, but he doesn't. If I don't teach him, who will? This man needs my guidance and my love more than any one of you. If I have to lose all of you to keep him, let this be the case".

The thief was so touched by this that he started to cry. From that day on, he never stole again.