Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Wheat and the Weeds

So, I didn't comment on the Phil Robertson business at the time and probably didn't need to. The whole homosexuality thing is getting tiresome to me because it seems like nobody is truly listening anymore and everyone is judging other people's hearts based on what they want to believe about a person and not on the evidence of a person's life -- from both directions. Unproductive. Going nowhere. Tiresome.

But the fact that people jump on Christians so quickly and assume hatred reveals a sad state of affairs for the church. Jesus said that we would be known by our love, and Lord knows that is not how the church is known these days. We can whine all day that we're being judged wrongly, but we should have expected to be judged wrongly -- we can't control the lenses through which others view us, but we can control what is there to be viewed through those lenses. And we've done a poor job of that over the years.

Last night in BSF, we studied several of Jesus' parables which I was very familiar with, having grown up in Sunday School. A couple spoke to me anew, however -- which is what the Word does, after all, and is why we continue to read it. (These are in Matthew 13, if you want to look them up.)

Jesus talks about a farmer who sows a field of good wheat, but his enemy plants a bunch of weeds in the mix. When his workers tell him about it, they ask if they should go pull up the weeds. "No," he says, "because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time, I will tell the harvesters; first collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it to my barn."

Several verses later, Jesus tells another story with the same point (a good sign that this is an important point to drive home). It's about fishermen who, when they pull up their net full of fish, have good and bad fish in the mix. So they sit and sort through them, tossing out the bad and keeping the good.

"This is how it will be at the end of the age," Jesus tells us.

Christ didn't always give explicit interpretations of his parables, but he did for both of these -- again, he apparently wanted the message to be quite clear. The harvest and the net represent the "end of the age", he tells us. The wheat and the weeds -- and the good and bad fish -- represent the righteous and the wicked. The harvesters and fishermen are the angels who will do the separating.

Pretty clear, yes?

Important things to note here for the believer and for the unbeliever. The unbeliever needs to see that there will be a separating . . . there will be a time of judgment, of judging who is righteous and who is not . . . and the fate of the weeds and bad fish is not a good one. (That phrase "weeping and gnashing of teeth" is Christ's own).

For the believer? Please note, brothers and sisters, that the wheat does not judge the weeds. The good fish do not judge the bad fish. And by judgment, I mean they don't get to decide who belongs in which category. They all grow together.  At the end of the age, it is only the angels who are qualified to sort them out.

Now, understand that this "do not judge" business is usually misused in society today.  It is a different matter to call a sin a sin and encourage those we care about to give up their sin. Jesus did that all the time and tells us to do so as well. But explaining that important and seemingly lost distinction is a post for another day.

For now, I want to learn what God set before me last night to learn. The wheat and the weeds grow together. They are sorted out by angels at the end of the age.

And an angel I am not and can never hope to be. But by God's grace, I will not be a weed.

No comments: