Christians aren’t supposed to live like unbelievers do. (See 1 Corinthians 5:1,2) Nor are we to excuse what the Bible identifies as “unrighteousness” in others, especially within the church. The popularized gospel of many twentieth century churches making what we once considered unthinkable possible – it not probable – among their attendees today. Some contemporary theologians going so far as to create an entirely new category for their unregenerate brethren – carnal Christians. Which is not to say Christians can never fall victim to carnal temptation but that genuine followers of Christ won’t consistently choose to live outside the Christian standard established by Christ in and through the church. Scripture acknowledging that it may at times be difficult to distinguish between “sheep” and “goats”, as Christians at times mimic the ungodly and the ungodly often masquerade as righteous by embracing some of the more socially acceptable aspects of Christianity. (See Christ’s judgment on such in Matthew 7:21-23)
Jesus’ parable of the wheat and weeds goes to great lengths characterizing the difference between redeemed Christians and unregenerate “sinners”. In it he explained, “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his fields. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away.” A common enough occurrence for Rome to enact laws concerning it. Over-sowing a neighbor’s grain crop with weeds, tares – or darnel – a wheat-like plant that produced useless seed instead of grain being financially devastating. And yet, it so closely resembled wheat that it was virtually impossible to recognize which was which until it matured along-side the authentic wheat; earning the sobriquet bastard wheat.
When this indeed happened, the field-owner’s servants came bearing the bad news, wondering where the weeds came from. The answer simply put, “An enemy did this.” The owner then cautioning against “…pulling the weeds, (as) you may root up the wheat…” as well. Letting both grow until harvest-time would allow them to be identified for what they really were and either stored in the barn or disposed of. (Matthew 13:24-30)
Interpreting this parable later for his disciples, Jesus explained, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man.” (A favorite term Jesus used in describing himself, associating with mankind on one hand and identifying with Messianic prophecy on the other.) “The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom.” Believers, followers, submitting to Christ as Lord and Savior of their lives. “The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil.” Mat. 13:37-42John differentiating between the children of God and those of the devil succinctly. “Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God;…” 1 John 3:10
It’s not our job as Christians to root out the weeds in our world. Too often, religious zealots have destroyed good wheat in their attempt at identifying and purging their “fields,” whether at home or abroad, of weeds. Our mission and ministry are neither political nor military, but designates us as ambassadors and emissaries for Christ. (Which doesn’t preclude political activism or military service, but whenever the church as an institution has become overly affiliated with the institutions of the world, its values and purpose often become clouded and used for worldly purposes.)
We have been planted – by the Lord – in the world, living shoulder–to-shoulder with “weeds”; who, unlike the darnel in this parable can be transformed. Scripture reminding us that we all “…were dead in (our) transgressions and sins, in which (we) used to live when (we) followed the ways of this world… (and) the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive in
Christ…” Ephesians 2:1-5 Created anew, “…to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10
Our job is not to condemn or force people to conform to our ideals. (See Matthew’s warning against throwing pearls to pigs in Matthew 7:6). We are however to preach against sin – accurately identifying it and explaining its present and future consequences – leading sinners to the grace of Christ while living exemplary lives of righteousness. (Faith fleshed-out in faithfulness)
At the harvest/judgment the wheat and weeds will be separated by angels. (Matthew 13:39-41) The sons of the evil one cast in the fire, the righteous led into the presence of God. How will the reapers differentiate the wheat from the weeds? By the spiritual fruit they bear. Weeds may imitate wheat, but in the end – genuine wheat – is identifiable by the crop it produces. Jesus warning, “…every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.” (Or occasionally bears good fruit for the wrong reasons. See Matthew 6:1-18) “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit,…” (At times bearing fruit less ‘tasty’ than it could or should, but the totality of a good tree’s fruitfulness/faithfulness will be good.) “…and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit (like weeds) is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus by their fruit you will recognize them.” Matthew 7:17-20
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