2 August 2020

Book: Matthew

All Sermons

Living Among the Weeds

A story is told of former president Ronald Reagan once had an aunt who took him to a shoemaker for a pair of new shoes. The cobbler asked young Ronald, “Do you want square toes or round toes?” Reagan wasn’t able to decide, so the cobbler gave him a few days.

Several days later the cobbler saw Reagan on the street and asked him again if he wanted square toes or round toes. Reagan still couldn’t decide, so the shoemaker replied, “Well, come by in a couple of days. Your shoes will be ready.” So Reagan stopped by the shop and he was given his new shoes. One had a round toe and the other had a square toe. Reagan looked back at the moment and said, “I learned right then and there if you don’t make your own decisions, someone else will.”

Reagan, crippled by indecisiveness, couldn’t take action. We are a society that is all about taking action. We want leaders who do stuff more than we want leaders who think about how to do stuff. And many of us model ourselves after this. There is a whole market for digital task managers to help you get things done. And so when we are confronted with persistent inaction it can be incredibly frustrating. We might just feel like shouting, “Just do something!”

Maybe this helps explain why we don’t do so well when God seems inactive. Living as a Christian in an unchristian world can sometimes be discouraging. As you do life, as you live in your own block, or the people you rub elbows with… do you struggle with living as a Christian? Maybe you watch the decisions other people make and it leaves you feeling discouraged. Maybe there is someone you know who is a thorn in your side when it comes to how you try to live your life. Maybe you feel disheartened when a co-workers thinks you are strange for wanting to go to church on Sunday morning. And as we try to deal with all of these things which causes us to be discouraged God can seem quite inactive. Which maybe leaves us feeling even more discouraged.

Why doesn’t he take action? Why doesn’t he take action and protect his people? And if he isn’t going to do anything about if he is not going to just show people what the truth is or show his justice then maybe you think that it is for you to take action. And maybe for you that looks like retreat, or tell the people off, or at the very least making a passive aggressive social media post. If you are discouraged by your God’s inaction, then Jesus told a parable just for you.

There was a farmer and he went out and planted wheat in his field. But once he planted it, during the night, an enemy came and sowed some bad seed. The plant is called darnel and you can’t tell that it’s a weed until the wheat and darnel sprout. In fact, it looks so much like wheat that sometimes it was harvested and ground with the wheat, but the problem is that it makes the flour inedible. So the wheat and the darnel grew together but once they began to sprout the Servants knew they had a problem on their hands. 

They came rushing to their master, “You sowed good seed didn’t you? What do you want us to do?” The master says, “Nothing.” And the servants are thinking, “Nothing, are you sure? You’re just going to let the wheat sit with the weeds?” The master says, “Yup, because you might uproot the wheat when you pull the weeds. So just wait until the harvest and we’ll take care of the weeds.” 

It’s kind of an odd parable isn’t it? I mean, how does it really answer our questions? We have a farmer and his enemy. And the farmer doesn’t really want to do anything about what the enemy has done. And he just tells his servants to wait. The farmer isn’t indecisive, but he takes no action.

Could you imagine if you were the servants at that point. It seems like they ask a pretty important question, “What do you want us to do?” And I am sure it was hard to wait until harvest. Do you think the servants doubted their masters wisdom? But they waited, because, in the end, their master said, the wheat would be taken care of. 

Maybe we can relate with the servants. They’re frustrated and we can get a little frustrated with life here in the midst of sin, and people who little use for Christianity, and people who could care less about Jesus, and people that are just plain hard to deal with. So how is this parable supposed to help? How does it answer our question? 

The disciples were a little confused too. Maybe they related with the servants too, which if that were the case we might understand their confusion. So Jesus explains the parable to them by giving them a whole cast of characters. The sower is the Son of Man, the Lord. The wheat are us, Sons of the Kingdom. The enemy sower is Satan. The weeds are those opposed to Jesus. And the harvest is the end of time and the harvesters are the angels. 

See we aren’t the servants. We are the wheat among the weeds, but we don’t have to worry about doing anything. We just have to sit there wait. And I guess that’s the problem isn’t it? Because it still doesn’t seem to answer our question. Why is God so inactive? It can almost feel like everything is hopeless. We can almost feel like just giving up. We might just say, “What’s the point?” What’s the point of our congregation if people outside aren’t going to care? What’s the point of telling people about Jesus if they’re just going to retort with a snide comment? Maybe it would just be better if it was just us.

And when you feel like giving up. When you feel like all is hopeless, take hope and know that God the sower still owns the field. He still reigns, even if it is in the most unexpected way. God’s inaction regarding the weeds, does not mean he is inactive.

At the end, the harvest will make everything right. What’s God going to do about the problem of people who hate Christ? On the last day evil will be sorted out. The things and people in this life that make you question God, and question his wisdom, and his reign as King of the universe, those people and things will be removed. 

Do you know why God is waiting to do the sorting of wheat and weeds? Do you know why God is waiting to sort good from evil? Because he knows you are the wheat and that you are at stake. He knows about the problem of sin and evil people. But he also knows that if he were to act now, he could harm you and your faith in the process. He knows it is better for you that he waits until the end when he can sort the evil out without harming you. 

What waits for you at the end is absolutely glorous. He said it earlier, you will shine as bright as the son in the kingdom of your father. That’s pretty amazing. I mean have you tried staring at the sun lately. No, because that’s weird. Nobody makes it a pastime because it’s bright. But that is what you are going to be like, because you are the Sons and daughters of the Kingdom. You will be gloriously perfect. You will receive the Son of Man’s perfection. The perfection that he won for you by living as wheat among the weeds. 

Jesus knows what its like living as wheat among the weeds. I mean just look at the evil people he had to put up with. He was almost thrown off a cliff by the people of his hometown for speaking Scripture in a synagogue. But not once did he flinch or doubt or wonder what was going on because he knew he was doing it for you so he could give you his perfection. And when he died to pay for your doubt and worry he then rose so that you could be sure that you would shine like the sun in the kingdom of your father. 

But just because he is inactive regarding the weeds does not mean that he is inactive. Here are some promises about what our Lord is doing right now:

  • In John 14 Jesus said that he is in heaven preparing a place for you right now.
  • Philippians 1 tells us that He is at work strengthening your faith, so that one day you can enter your place in heaven.
  • Ephesians 1 tells us that he is reigning over all things for the benefit of his church
  • Romans 8 tells us that he is working all things out for our eternal good.
  • 1 Thessalonians 2 tells us that God continues to be at work in the world today through his mighty word.

See God’s inaction is not inactivity. He is simply waiting, and while he waits he is at work. But as much as he waiting so that your faith is not harmed, he is also waiting for the sake of the weeds. Here is how the Apostle Peter put it, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” He is not being slow, he is being patient because he wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. And that might just mean that he uses you to proclaim truth as you live among the weeds. God is active and he is active through you, so that many more may be brought into the harvest.

Though he is at work, Jesus is gone now, but he won’t be gone forever because the harvest is coming and when it is here he will return. He is coming as King and all will see that he does reign. And the clouds will be his red carpet. And the angels will be his entourage. And all will know that the Lord is God. And when the harvest is over you will be given his kingdom. Where it will be just you and your fellow believers and your Lord. 

Look forward to the harvest. You know how everything is going to work out. And so we wait as sons and daughters of the kingdom. We don’t have to do anything, because our God will take care of it all. He is getting everything ready for the harvest. So take heart, the harvest is coming!