So, Jesus tells this parable – this story – of weeds and wheat growing together, as a picture of what the reign of God looks like.
Now, I know, that some of you have more tolerance for weeds than others. God bless you. I admire you.
But I know for me, there’s always something in me that bristles with annoyance at the sight of healthy and robust growing weeds in the midst of my lawn at home.
And so, at first sight of these weeds, you’ll often see me dashing out there with the “weed-be-gone” spray, or that fancy weed-puller instrument you can get at Home Hardware.
And so, in Jesus’ parable, when the immediate reaction of the slaves of the householder to discovering a profusion of ugly and unwanted weeds growing up beside the wheat, is to want to go and pull them out right away… I really get that.
But listen to what the householder says.
The householder says, “Stop. Pause. Breathe. Let the weeds be. Just let both weeds and wheat grow together until the harvest… because if you were now to go and pull out all the weeds you’d also uproot the wheat…”
Now, if wheat represents “the good”, and the weeds represent “evil,” this call of the householder to pause, hold back, and restrain the impulsive, reactive instinct against “evil” weeds, and just allow the weeds to grow along with the “good” wheat until the harvest time…
… Doesn’t this call to restraint require of us…
… patience …
… an acceptance of the messy, complicated and imperfect nature of our lives and world…
… and perseverance over time in placing our focus and concentration on the goodness and grace of God …
… NOT obsessing over that which is bad, and focussing on evil, BUT RATHER celebrating, encouraging and nurturing that which is good?
It’s taken some time for me to understand and accept, that the best way over time to keep a reasonably healthy and green lawn, is not constantly looking for, and attempting to eradicate every last weed that pops out of the lawn – an exhausting, impossible losing battle, in all truth.
Better instead, to make sure I’m doing everything possible to focus and concentrate on keeping the grass itself healthy – by regularly watering, fertilizing and throwing down extra grass seed to ensure there’s more grass than weeds grabbing the nutrients in the soil.
In other words, forget about the weeds, and instead, focus on the grass.
In each one of our hearts, weeds and wheat grow together.
The good, the bad, and the in-between exists and comes out in different times and places we’re not even aware.
There are times, we think we’re going a good thing, and are very self-conscious about the good we do, but it ends up not making much of a difference at all, or worse, it may even cause more harm than good.
But, there are also times, we may not even be aware of it, when simply our very presence, simply our un-self-conscious words or natural behaviour may be making a far bigger and more effective impression among others, causing more good in the world around us than we would’ve ever thought, or calculated, or imagined to be possible.
Such is our complicated human condition.
We’re “saints and sinners” all at the same time. Each one of us.
There’s a funny story about guy who stopped at a red traffic light, waiting for the light to turn green.
But when the light did turn green, for some reason – maybe he was distracted, or closed his eyes for a nap – he didn’t budge. Didn’t move at all. Just stayed stopped at the intersection.
Well, the woman in the car behind him honked her horn.
Still he didn’t move.
She honked again. By this time, she was pounding on the steering wheel, yelling, and blowing her horn non-stop.
Finally, just as the light turned yellow, the guy in the first car finally woke up, and drove through the intersection….
… leaving the woman behind him to have to, once again, wait at the red light.
Well, she was beside herself.
Still in mid-rant, she heard a tap on her car window. She looked up to see the face of a police officer.
“You’re under arrest. Get out of the car. Put your hands up.”
The officer took her to the police station. Got her photographed. Fingerprinted. Put her in a holding cell.
Finally the officer returned. “Sorry for the mistake,” he said.
“But I pulled up behind you as you were blowing your horn and cursing the guy in front of you.
I noticed the stickers on your bumper. One read, “Follow me to Sunday School.” The other, “What Would Jesus Do?
So naturally, I assumed you had stolen the car.”
Weeds and wheat exist in all of us, despite the way we may present ourselves in public.
But this shouldn’t discourage us. In the death and resurrection of Jesus, we know that life is stronger than death, love is stronger than hate, and that light is stronger than darkness. Wheat is stronger than weed.
That at the end of the day, God’s ways, and God’s reign will triumph.
But until that time, our job is to focus on being wheat, to – as the VBS theme this past week put it – to imagine with God, to grow with God, to work and walk with God.
Not obsessing with what’s wrong with us and the world, but rather being focussed on and nurturing the good.
A wonderful real-life, true example of what this means comes out of Wingate, North Carolina.
A church there wanted to embark on a ministry with children in a nearby trailer park.
But they had to decide what kind of ministry it would be.
Would it be one characterized by “pulling weeds” – going in there, rooting out, chasing down and confronting drug dealers, deadbeat dads, confiscating hand guns and arresting child abusers?
Or, something else?
The church members decided to put up a basket ball net, hang out and play with little children, build relationships and friendships, tell stories from the Bible, and sing songs about Jesus.
Two years into this ministry, the Pastor of the congregation got a note in his box with five words on it: “Adrian wants to be baptized.”
The terror of the trailer park.
The little girl who had made their work most difficult over the past two years.
Who would’ve guessed?
Instead of pulling weeds, church members just tried hard to be wheat, and it made a difference.
God give us the grace, the wisdom, the patience and courage to plant ourselves as wheat, at home, at church, at work, in a world full of weeds, trusting that God’s good ways will triumph in the end.