Let the Weeds Grow
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.
~ Mark 13:30
We can all think of one person who it seems like never experiences any consequences for their bad actions. They always seem to wiggle their way out of trouble, no matter how big or small that trouble might be. Maybe we know them personally. The favored sibling, the charming co-worker, that kid in school. People who seem to have a sixth sense for knowing just how far they can push a specific situation without getting into trouble.
Maybe you just know them by name or reputation. The Politian who is clearly connected to people who owe them a favor or two. The celebrity who was let off with a warning yet again. The CEO who takes full advantage of a loophole or hires the lawyer with questionable morals to bury their opponent under mountains of paperwork and legal proceedings.
Whatever the case, we all know someone who fits the description, and they likely are not our favorite person in the world. Singer/Songwriter Rich Mullins had a great quote I think of when I’m dealing with one of those people in my life: “I know, ‘Vengeance is mine thus saith the Lord,” but I just want to be about the Lord’s business.” There are moments where I can truly relate. Another quote I heard for the first time in that same season of life was from DC Talk’s album “Jesus Freak”:
“The single greatest cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips then walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” ~ Brennan Manning
With this in mind, I have a lot of sympathy for the servants in our scripture for today. Matthew 13 tells several parables to teach about the Kingdom of God and in verse 24 the parable of the weeds begins. The servants have done their job and sown seed in a particular field. Then, at night, for no particular reason we know of, an enemy sneaks in and sows seed for weeds along with the good seed for the crop. When the crop begins to grow, the deed is revealed and the servants are faced with a choice: leave it grow or pull it out. There are pros and cons to each. On one hand, you don’t want weeds growing with your crop because they will steal resources from the soil and, eventually, need to be sorted out from the crop if there is to be value in the harvest. But on the other hand you don’t want to uproot the crop unnecessarily and potentially lessen your harvest.
Having grown up on a Midwest farm with a dad who took great pride in being sure his fields were as free from weeds as possible, I can understand the dilemma. The more you are in the field once the crop is planted, the more you will damage the growing plants. But if you leave it alone too much, you won’t get full market value for your crop because of the weed byproducts mixed in with the good crop. When I was kid a key part of that solution was either walking or riding beans. Today, with the advances in technology, crops are better able to survive herbicides sprayed on them and herbicides are better at killing just the weeds and not the entire crop. Thus, walking or riding beans has become virtually obsolete in many farming communities.
But back to our owner in the our parable. He opts to let the weeds grow and sort out the crop from the weeds at harvest. He reasons that, since the crop is already growing, there is nothing to really be done until it is time to harvest.
Jesus here is speaking about corruption within the faith community. One of the reasons Jesus was not well-received by the Jewish leadership is because he spoke the truth which had the side effect of exposing many of the Jewish leaders as being more concerned with power and privilege than grace and forgiveness. Additionally, they were under the rule of the Roman government which was largely viewed as corrupt and illegitimate throughout Israel. As a result, many people were looking for the Messiah to be the next earthly king of Israel. For many, including at time the disciples, they had hopes that Jesus would be the one sent by God to overthrow the Roman government, clean up the sin within the temple, and rule as the rightful, God-appointed king.
Thankfully, Jesus saw a much bigger picture. So he says to let the weeds grow with the wheat knowing that someday, when we stand before the throne of God, it will all get sorted out. The wheat, those who have faith and believe, will enter into heaven. The weeds, those who only pretend to believe to further their personal agenda or those who don’t believe at all, will be cast aside.
I actually find this parable to be of great personal comfort when I consider the church today. If we are being honest, we have to admit that there are a lot of weeds growing in the church today. I happened to be working as a youth pastor in a Catholic Church in the early 2000’s, the same time many people were just learning of the wide spread abuses of power within the leadership of the church. I’ve attended a church when the decision was made to dismiss the senior pastor over issues of anger and creating a hostile work environment. I’ve been part of a few churches which had glaring imperfections.
When you experience one of those sorts of situations, it is so easy to be tempted to throw the baby out with the proverbial bathwater. Or, to use the imagery in this parable, to rip up all the weeds. But in Jesus saying to let the weeds grow with the wheat, he is saying he isn’t willing to risk even one life, one stalk of wheat. While we may want him to do some major weeding right away, he waits and promises that, when it is all said and done, it will all be figured out.
So I’ll do my best to let the weeds grow and leave the sorting up to God. It isn’t a perfect system but, because we live in a fallen and sinful world, Satan has had his chance to plant weeds in the food soil intended for crops. And while those weeds grow, I’ll focus my attention on growing a healthy, plentiful crop to harvest.
- In the last couple of weeks, growth of flowers and lawns has exploded around camp as we have been getting both moisture and warm temperatures. How has the explosion of green plant growth reminded you of God's faithfulness?
- Before his death, Rich Mullins was a well-known Christian singer/songwriter who strived to live a low-key life. The documentary "Homeless Man" reflects on his life and ministry. The link below kicks off the quote I mentioned above but if you have the time, I would encourage you to watch the entire video.
- If you are ready for a flashback to the early days of contemporary Christian music, check out the link below to the DC Talk music video for "What If I Stumble"