Monday, May 25, 2009

Wheat and Weeds

One of my favorite parables in Matthew is that of the weeds among the wheat, 13:24-30,

He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?’ He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The slaves said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’"

Lots of people claim Christ as their Savior. From one sower of the Word, the Son of Man, we get so many different pictures of believers, which is something to be celebrated. The diversity in Christianity is a point of strength. Saying this, there are some Christians of whom I can’t make any sense when I look back at Jesus. The tyrannical and performance driven ministries are just some of these.

I try not to ever enter discussions on individual faith. That is a slippery, stumbling slope. I am truly grateful that the judgment of the heart does not lie in my future, or even my present. I don’t even like to be a volunteer judge for game days at church. I hate to think about people losing. Let’s broaden it to Christians and non-Christians. We all have good and bad seeds. Like it or not, Jesus tells us here that we all have the same fate. We are in the field together and we are harvested together.

I believe that this parable is very purposeful. It is a warning to the disciples about being on their guard, and putting down their guard all at the same time. If you like red letters, then it is really purposeful. Jesus wants for the disciples to know that there are some things that will, potentially, identify with Jesus and not belong to Him. They are planted among His wheat, but they will not look, smell, taste or feel like Jesus. They will not bring the weight of the Spirit with them. We need to be on our guard because we are planted with the weeds. We can put our guard down because there are some seeds are bad and that is just the way that it is. Christ knows this and has it covered.

So, the human me says…isn’t it hard enough to discern things in our own lives without thinking about the weeds in our neighborhoods and churches?

Let’s address this question, in the longest way that I can possibly think of. In Matthew 13:36-43, Jesus explains this parable. It says that there are some seeds that were planted by the Son of Man, and there are some seeds that were planted by the evil one. We are all rooted in the same field, this world. And, we all have the same fate, the gathering at the end of this age. I want to put these two verses next to each other because I believe that they are the keys to answering or redirecting my question.

Matthew 13:29, “But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them…”

Matthew 13:41, “The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers…”.

We are essentially looking at the soil at this point, the causes of sin. The answer appears to be that we need the causes of sin right now. Something for us to remember: we live in a world that is under the temporary rule of Satan, although God still has ultimate control.

It is kind of like God being president and Satan is the unfortunate mayor, scrambling to get his piece of the pie for as long as he can. We, also, know that Satan is a formidable foe and we are to fear the things that we cannot see, not the stinging of the bees or the occasional act of vandalism. Due to Satan’s cunning nature, there is a sin condition that is alive and productive in this world.

So, if Christ allowed His angels to take out the weeds, we would still have the same world, the causes of sin. This is only removed at the gathering of the field. We would just have less people. So, it would be a bunch of flawed Christians running around with the causes of sin. That is not much of an improvement.

But, wouldn’t it be a relief for the Lord to take out the weeds? No more confusing double talk. We would know who the false teachers are and never put ourselves in the path of any destructive ideologies. Those people would be gone. Isn’t it easier to talk about weeds than people, fathers, mothers, children, souls? This is where my questions redirects. We need the weeds, they are purposeful. They are people who Jesus loves, as much as the wheat.

I believe that God means what He says. He says that it would uproot us. These are people, His own creation. It would be disruptive and unjust to remove them before there are no more days. We would not be able to handle it. I don’t know why, but I tend to accept the explanation that it is just not time. I can’t imagine it. It makes my heart grieve for the lost who are rooted in this field without the promise of protection, of safe gathering. There are those who will hear the word of Christ and not accept it, AND there are those who will not hear the word of Christ and know that there is a living, redeeming God.

The saddest part is that the weeds are negligible to Satan, only weeds growing abundantly in the fields that he sows. Their fate is destruction in cruel and unimaginable ways. Some hearts are so hard that they don’t care. These are the ones that the disciples are warned against. They are not seeking the living God. They are seeking the destruction of themselves and others. We have to sit in this sin-filled field, this world. We have to be rooted together with evil doers, the bad seed, claiming Christianity or not.

So, redirecting my question, what do we do with all of us crammed in the same field? There has to be choice and influence for the good and the bad seed. Our part is to influence the sowing of the field because there are only two sowers, and it can go either way. We can influence the sowing of the seed through relationship, although we cannot control the outcome of any of it. To some it is frightening that the causes of evil can influence us and invade our root space…but you know what? Christ can do much more. We have the same power of influence rooted in the kingdom of heaven. We can love the weed right out of them.

This is the master plan; the one that works. It allows us to raise our children with the tools to know God and identify with Him, to choose Him. What a gift! It allows us to be able to walk into the grocery store and be led to someone who needs life, His life. Maybe we are intermingled, the wheat and the weeds, because we are so simple-minded that we can learn best about Him through comparison…good seed, bad seed. By looking around we can pretty easily see things that He is not, therefore, narrowing down the playing field.

The trick is to be grateful for even the bad seed and pray for opportunities to interfere in the sowing. Some are already planted and rooted, but some are ready to be cast out amongst us. Let us work within the field in which we were planted.

Father, thank you for showing yourself against the backdrop of this field. Thank you for giving us the discernment to grow in you. Protect us against the weeds in our field and give us the opportunity to influence the sowing of the seeds, for your glory.

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