Today, we have another one of those agricultural parables.
Last week, we had one about good soil, about seeds being thrown out as many would consider kind of foolishly. Some landing on a rocky path to be ate by birds; some falling in shallow soil, where they grow quickly but are easily uprooted; And others that fall among weeds and thorns, and they grow but are choked out by the worries and concerns of the world.
Today, we have the one of the wheat and the weeds.
I am not good at growing plants. If it doesn’t make noise, I tend to forget to take care of it. But, I do know that you don’t usually want to let weeds hang out in our garden. And yet, that is precisely what we have in our parable today.
Why wouldn’t it be easy to identify what these weeds are in comparison to wheat?
There seems to be a question about how to remove it without taking the good wheat along with it.
In Jesus’ time, there was a common practice of revenge which was to take seeds for darnel which is a weed, a poisonous weed, that looks like wheat. The common practice of revenge in that day was to planet these bad seeds among the good seeds of your enemy so that when the wheat started growing, the weeds would be growing right along side. It was challenging to tell the difference.
I don’t think that is too hard of a concept for us to get in our time and in our place.
We live in a world that is perhaps more polarized then it as been, if ever, but at least in recent decades. Part of our human nature and desire is to try to separate ourselves from one another, to be more focused on the wrong or evil or sin of others rather than looking within ourselves.
This week at Vacation Bible School (VBS), we talked about turning away from God.
God is always present, but sometimes we turn away. That is sin.
We also talked about how sometimes we do thing we know in word, or in action, or even in our thoughts that would disappoint God. That is sin.
Sometimes we are curved in on ourselves, thinking only about our own wants and desires. That is sin.
These grow within our world and in us personally next to the good things like patience, love, compassion, mercy, and service. They co-exist together.
This week there was a post on Facebook that I saw, which amused me and illustrated how sometimes we get fixated on the weeds instead of the wheat.
A woman came to her pastor and tells her pastor that she wants to quit the church. (Now, any pastor that hears that is going to ask the question “why”.) This woman said “well, so-and-so, she is a gossiper. And so-and-so, they’re a hypocrite. And I see people not really paying attention to you when you are preaching. And I see people on their cellphones. And I just have to be somewhere that is not happening.”
The pastor says “I encourage you to take this (full) glass of water. Walk around the church building three times without losing any drops and if you do that, come back to me and you can leave the church.”
She does this. She walks around the building three times with this cup of water.
And when she gets back to the pastor’s office, the pastor asked:
“Did you notice anybody gossiping”?
“Did you notice anybody being a hypocrite?”
“Did you notice anybody not paying attention?”
“Did you notice anybody on their cellphones?”
“Why do you think that is?”
She kind of stared at the pastor.
The pastor said “because you were so focused on that glass of water that you didn’t notice what those around you were doing. So should your life of faith, your focus on Christ”, that you won’t notice ‘those weeds’ per se.
I thought it was an interesting take on community and life together. Often we want to be the ones to determine who is the wheat and who is the weeds. And to be honest, we’ll always gonna consider ourselves to be the wheat. ALWAYS.
There is another saying I have seen on Facebook over time that “We should be so busy loving one another that we don’t have time to hate”.
Or there is a sign in my office, a quote from Ghandi, that says “You Must Be the Change You Want to See in the World”.
Or to get a little more down-home “Mind your own biscuits and life will be gravy”
We have all heard these phrases.
We have all heard these stories.
And yet, part of our human nature, our sinfulness, is to continue to want to sort out who is “good” and who is “bad”.
Jesus is saying “leave that job for me and our Father at the end of the days. Leave that for us. That is NOT your job.”
Our job isn’t to pull the weeds and to separate the wheat from the weeds.
What is our job?
It is to sow good seeds of grace, to proclaim the Word, to act with compassion and mercy, and to love and to serve. Those are the seeds we are called to sow and other than that leave it to God.
Scripture: Matthew 13: 24-30, 36-43
Originally Preached on 2017 July 23 at Gloria Dei (Kelso, WA).