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Sorting Wheat & Weeds: Cautionary Tale

19 Jul

Our Scriptures are especially intertwined through exploring the nature of God, our identity in Christ, and the theodicy question. Theodicy is the fancy term for the common question: ‘why does suffering and evil exist’, especially if God is all-powerful and all-loving.

Isaiah reminds the exiled Israelites that God is eternal and has a personal relationship with us. Additionally, God is our true King who rescues and protects us.

The Psalmist reminds us that God is our ever-patient, compassionate, and kind teacher of divine truth.

Paul, in his letter to the Romans, reminds us that God is our perfect parent.

And thus, we are called into a personal relationship with God, who has named and redeemed us.

We are called to be engaged students seeking to learn the divine truth from God whole-heartedly.

We are called to be children of God, who are co-heirs with Christ in the Kingdom to Come.

Our Parable of the Tares, or Weeds, addresses the theodicy question while rooted in the nature of God and our identity in Christ.

Christ has sown the ‘good seeds’ of grace, love, and mercy in our world (field). These seeds produce ‘children of God’.

Unfortunately, an enemy has sown the ‘bad seeds’ of sin, hate, and evil in our world (field). These seeds produce ‘children of the evil one’.

Although our modern psychology, sociology, and theology argues that people are not that simplistic, the Ancient Near East (ANE) held that persons were pre-determined, pre-destined, and born as a ‘good seed’ or ‘bad seed’ without the hope of transformation.

These seeds are inter-mingled and mature together within this messy world, or field. The ‘good seed’ becomes wheat, while the ‘bad seed’ becomes tares. The wheat and tares are visually identical in appearance until the final stage of ripening prior to harvest, but tares are toxic.

We, the field hands, inquire about the existence of these weeds. This is the theodicy question. Christ explains that an enemy had sown those seeds, thus sin, hate, and evil are not from God.

Then we, the field hands, offer to remove the toxic weeds from the field. Christ, however, instructs us to NOT remove the toxic weeds from the field. He is concerned that we would unintentionally disturb, endanger, and/or remove wheat.

Christ further shares that the angels, not us humans, will sort the wheat from the weeds at the harvest.

The Parable of the Weeds is NOT intended to establish a dichotomy, such as ‘us vs. them’ or ‘good vs. evil’, for such polarization and distillation prevents reconciling relationships invested in the best interest of all persons.

Instead, the Parable of the Weeds is intended to be a cautionary tale.

  1. It cautions us to resist the desire to sort the wheat and the weeds, for the difference is not obvious, and we will mistakenly mis-identify ourselves or another. It would be similar to sorting salt and sugar by appearance alone.
  2. It cautions us to resist the desire to judge persons, especially hastily.
    The scriptures, as embodied by Christ, teaches us to seek justice, to act with compassion and mercy, and to love and serve all persons without pausing to consider if they are worthy.
  3. The maturing of the wheat and weeds together permit the opportunity to practice extending the gift of grace, mercy, compassion, and love to all persons. Remember: You will reap what you sow.
  4. The withholding of judgement offers the opportunity to reflect on if we are wheat or weeds. Honestly, we are both wheat AND weeds, both saint AND sinner.

May we embrace the all-loving God who continually sows the good seeds of grace, love, and mercy within our world despite the bad seeds of sin, hate, and evil existing.

May we withhold our judgement, resist the desire to remove the presumed weeds, and to serve all persons without pausing to consider whether they are worthy or not.

May our eyes be opened to the weeds within our own souls, leaning on the Holy Spirit to remove the sin, hate, and evil from ourselves. Amen.

 

Scriptures were Isaiah 44:6-8; Psalm 86:11-17; Romans 8:12-25; and Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43.
Originally preached for 19 July 2020 for Trinity Lutheran (Union City, IN).
 
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Posted by on July 19, 2020 in Sermons

 

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