Here is another story Jesus told: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. But that night as everyone slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat. When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew. The farmer’s servants came and told him, ‘Sir, the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds!’
“‘An enemy has done it!’ the farmer exclaimed.
“‘Shall we pull out the weeds?’ they asked.
“He replied, ‘No, you’ll hurt the wheat if you do. Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds and burn them and to put the wheat in the barn.'”
Matthew 13:24-30 (NLT)
Yes, I am well aware that this passage is from yesterday’s reading, but today we read the explanation of it.
Skeptics of Christianity often ask, “If God exists, why is there bad in the world?” The obvious answer is that there is a God, but there is also an enemy. While God is God and He is infinite in His mercy and goodness, if He made all evil disappear, our free will would disappear along with it and that would defeat His entire purpose in creating humanity.
But all of that is not what we’re looking at today. Why is there evil? Why are there weeds among the wheat? Why can’t we just pull the weeds and be done with it?
Have you ever pulled a weed from your garden?
I am convinced that the root systems of weeds are fifty times larger than those of good plants. It’s nearly impossible to pull a weed without ripping out all of the soil in a radius that seems entirely too large for the size of weed you’re pulling. Along with the weed comes its roots, additional soil, and anything that was growing in that additional soil. Transfer that picture to a wheat field. There is no way the harvest would survive the pulling of all the weeds.
So the bad exists with the good and will exist until harvest time.
We are both the good seed and the farmer’s servants. We’ve been planted and have been given the mandate to grow. We’ve also been commissioned to plant and encourage others to grow. What we have not been given the job to do is weed the garden. God didn’t give the Church the job of removing that which doesn’t belong.
Think of it this way: you planted your garden in the spring. You took the time to prepare the soil. You’ve read up on how to tend to every type of plant you want to grow. You are going to reap a bountiful harvest. In a matter of weeks, your little plants start to sprout. You see neat little rows of green shooting up from the dark soil. Another week or two passes by, you’ve watered and you’re seedlings continue to grow, but something else has happened, there are new shoots that aren’t a part of your neat little rows. Weeds!
If you then, over the course of the summer, focus solely on the weeds and their removal from your garden and completely neglect the good seeds, what sort of harvest—if any— will you have come fall? You can’t remove all the weeds without damaging your good plants. You can’t starve the weeds without starving your harvest. Some weeds will have to stay through to the end for you to reap the bounty you planned on from the start.
So it is with the Church. If our sole focus is on trying to keep the bad stuff out, we’re going to miss out on all the good stuff. It’s not our job to pull the weeds; it’s our job to tend to the fields.
Daily Bible reading: Genesis 42-43, Matthew 13:33-58