24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.
27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’
28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.
“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
29 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 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 into my barn.’”
Many of us I believe can identify with this parable that Jesus told.
Over the last couple of weeks with the Turning Mission I have seen God do some amazing stuff, yet also have seen Church politics get a bit unpleasant and been struggling a bit with my depression/ability to cope. In my life it feels very much like wheat and the weeds growing together.
I was recently reading the amazing book “Dirty Glory” and was struck by how Pete Greig talks about how he is in a place where God is doing amazing things and the mission that he (Greig) was instrumental in is snow-balling when his own world is collapsing as his wife is fighting for her life with a brain tumour. Wheat and Weeds growing together.
Some days it might even feel as if there is loads of weeds and the wheat isn’t always as visible, your eye is drawn to what shouldn’t be there, it feels wrong and out of place.
We as Christians have to live with this paradox, we believe in the ‘already and the not yet’ of the Kingdom of God. A fallen world -with pain and brokenness- but yet with signs of the Kingdom breaking in around us too.
I remember at college there was a big debate around “Original Sin versus Original Blessing” which basically could be condensed into one basic question “Are people basically good or bad?” -and the truth is BOTH. We are made in the image of God and something of his nature can never be squashed out of his creation, yet we are also clearly fallen people, we sin and are sinful.
In fact the fact that wheat is growing is the reason the weeds are growing too, the enemy would not waste his time in sowing weeds into a redundant field.
Pastor Yinka spoke on Sunday about “The greater the favour, the greater the warfare”, this echoes with scripture when it tells us that “anyone who wants to live a Godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted”.
There is a song “I never promised you a rose garden” and yet people think that as Christians we should expect and easy ride and life will always be plain-sailing with a perpetual car parking space every time you visit ASDA(L!).
We all want a weed free world.
Yet this isn’t the reality of life for us as Christians.
Too often we sell the Christian faith as a pleasure cruise-liner when actually it is a battle-shop.
If there were no ‘weeds’ in our life, no challenges or struggles, would we grow? Would we become all we could be? Would we miss out on seeing God’s grace and answers to prayer? Would we be able to bless those around us as effectively as we do know?
We cannot have the wheat without the weeds.
When Jesus and later St. Paul, talked about following Christ as being the narrow way, a struggle or a fight they weren’t joking.
The Bible says “In this world you will have trouble…”
And then it goes onto say “but take heart I have over-come the world”.
I was talking to someone at Church on Sunday who quoted Julian of Norwich who said “all will be well”, which made me think about “all things work for the good of those who love him” and think of Joseph who moved from the pit to the prison to the palace, and was able to save the nations around him -Joseph himself said “what was meant for evil God turned around for good”. God who can redeem messy situations, and use broken bricks to build a wall (cf the story of Nehemiah), is able to keep good on his promise to bring good out of bad.
Alongside this I thought of another quote I had heard which said “It’ll be alright in the end, and if it is not alright it is not the end”. This resonates with the story Jesus told because eventually there is a harvest and the weeds are taken away and the wheat harvested. It is comforting to know that even thought the weeds may look many, and may look fearsome one day “every knee will bow before him and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord”, the weeds/sin/pain/Satan/evil does not get the last word but instead Jesus does. Jesus has the last word.
There is a harvest.
And the harvester is trustworthy.