I am one of those guys that really responds well to the inspirational image of the guy who works hard when no one else is paying attention, who grinds away to make themselves better, to make their reality better. The idea that discipline is required to achieve the things we long for in life is encouraging to me. It is reminiscent of the stoic philosophy that you can only control the things which are within the sphere of your influence. So, do not worry about the rest and do what you are given to do. Put in the work, the blood, sweat and tears, and be responsible for the things of your life. Do not blame others for things you have neglected to take care of. Our modern culture of whiney people who seem to love to play the part of the victim is difficult for me to process. I cannot imagine why anyone would want to be in that role. I want to be strong and capable, and I want to surround myself with strong and capable people who will not only inspire me but inspire my children. This is how we make a stand. This is how we endure, regardless of who is elected or what latest crisis consumes our attention.
Then there is this place, the gathering of the people of God. This is a place which holds at its core the confession that we are saved by grace through faith in Christ alone. Let me tell you something, as a preacher I get to see just how crucial this message is. I mean that. I can see it. I observe it on the faces of the people who gather in this place, as they come from a world where they have worked hard and failed, have dug deep over and over again only to find there is more to dig, there is no relief at the end of the day or week or month. They may put on a smile and act like they have everything under control, but there are moments when the façade slips, and the hurt and grief shows through. They do not come here to get a little motivation, to be inspired to get back in the game and give it their best shot. They come because they are done, lost, and cannot go on. This is precisely what the Good News is about. To be saved by grace through faith in Christ alone is to be saved not by what you have done but by what God has done for you. It is not to give of yourself but to receive all He has done for you. So, this place becomes a place of rest, healing, and forgiveness.
As a result, we trust in our God. We trust in His promises. We trust what He has done and what He said He will do. Our Lord speaks things about you that you find difficult to see in yourself. He declares you to be His brothers and sisters, heirs of eternal life. You are saints worthy of eternal life. Finally, we breathe a sigh of relief. We feel the tension leave our bodies. Well, most of it. There is a restlessness which does not fully go away. There is an anxiety, of sorts, which stays active. Your faith is tested. It is challenged and stretched. Once you have regained your strength, received your respite from the grind of life, you begin to look around and really take in this place of rest and healing. Maybe you do not see the faces of the worn out and hurting. Perhaps what you begin to see are the divisions that never seem to heal. You see the complacent disciples who just take and never give. You see the hypocrites who make a mockery of the gifts of our Lord.
The Kingdom of Heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, reliable seed that will produce excellent results, a superior harvest on the last day. But while the man is sleeping, an enemy comes and sows weeds into the same field. These two grow together. The servants seeing the weeds cry out, “Master, did you not sow good seed in your field?” If this is the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven, why are there weeds here? Why would anyone tolerate such a thing? Do they not know who the Master is? Do they not know what this field means?
Therefore, the servants ask the master if they should start the weeding process. Should they go and pull up these evil weeds which are spoiling the field? You look around and see there is work that needs to be done and you are ready to roll up your sleeves and get to work. You have found rest in the promises of God, but now you are concerned about the how His Kingdom looks. You wonder if you are the one who ought to get things in order. Perhaps, you start with the unrepentant sinners, those who do not even seem capable of seeing the depth of their own depravity. Surely the field would be better without them in our midst. Certainly, it would be a blessing to exclude them. Or possibly it is the ones who seem to have a knack for creating division, for opening old wounds or sowing seeds of discontent. No doubt we would be stronger if they were removed. If we enacted some real discipline and stood our ground, we could get this field in shape in no time.
But the Master says, “No.” Let the weeds grow with the wheat. Allow them to continue maturing together. Why? Because in your attempt to pull up the weeds, in your zeal to clean up the field, you will, no doubt, pull-up some of the good seed. It is not your job to weed the field. This is what the Kingdom of Heaven looks like on the Earth. It is good seed and weeds all mixed together. It is not neat and clean. It is troubled with sin, opposition, discontent, and brokenness. In fact, a few of those you may think are weeds might actually turn out to be wheat and some you might believe to be wheat turn out to be weeds. So, what a blessing that it is not up to us to make the judgment, to weed the field. Rather, the same faith which brought us comfort, rest, and healing is the faith that continues to guide and shape our days as we await the Harvest Day.
The true weeds, according to Jesus, are the sons of the Evil One. They are sown in our midst by the Devil, and God Himself will deal with them. The separation of the wheat and the weeds will come on the Last Day. It will come when we least expect it, as a thief in the night. What you are given to do, where you are to be concerned is not with the weeding of the field, but in receiving the gifts of Christ, and handing on the good news that we are saved by grace through faith in Christ alone. Sure, we make our stand on the truth, we need it. It is the only reason to gather together in the first place. The Gospel alone holds the promise of healing, rest, and forgiveness. But that message will be sown among hypocrites and evil doers, among the unrepentant and the apathetic together. It may look like a mess. In fact, I guarantee it will, but this is what the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven looks like.
Your faith is not just that Christ has come, not simply that you are redeemed and forgiven by cross and empty tomb. No, as incredible as the Good News is, it gets even better. Your faith is that there is a Lord of the Harvest, a final day, a harvest day to come. There will be a yet more glorious day when you will see with your eyes what you believe in your hearts and confess with your mouths. There will be a separation of the weed and wheat. There will be a gathering of the sons of God into His eternal blessings. There is a resurrection, a permanent healing, an eternal rest for all the saints of God.
Your faith in the promises of God, in the gifts of Christ, is the connection to all His blessings. Leave the weeding to Him and trust that you loved. You are forgiven. You are the holy ones of God.