Anyone who has observed lawns and landscaping is well aware of the ongoing turf battle with weeds. When we moved to Arkansas, we bought a house that had been unoccupied for two years. In a cost cutting move, the builder chose to lay sod around the structure of the house and to seed the rest of the lawn. During those two years, the house had nice, plush grass around its immediate circumference. The rest of the yard was another story. After several estimates we selected a company that came to our home and drenched the soil with weed killer. After the weeds were dead, we had very little grass to compliment our big dirt lawn. Two years later, we were finally in business.
Jesus’ second parable of Matthew 13 regards the wheat and the weeds, found in Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43. As the story goes, a farmer planted wheat in his field. Under the cover of darkness, an enemy came to the same field and planted darnel (like ryegrass) among the wheat. During the initial phases of growth, the wheat and the darnel looked the same. But as the grain heads began to set on the wheat, the farmer could quickly discern that everything was not as it seemed.
It was popular for some time to read this parable and interpret it as being directed toward people in the church who were not genuine Christians. But Jesus is not addressing this parable to the church. He plainly says, “The field is the world.” The point of the parable is that the Kingdom of God is being sown in tension. God permits the dynamic tension of the Kingdom coming in the midst of an evil world.
The presence of evil in no way discounts the arrival of the kingdom or diminishes the work of the kingdom. We should never be surprised at evil and its opposition to the advance of the Kingdom. (Matthew 11:12) The kingdom has come and is at work with limitless grace, but it is not purging the world of evil. The Jews believed that when the Kingdom would arrive under Messiah’s reign, evil would be eliminated. Not so. The good seed of the Kingdom is being sown and is to be fruitful in the midst of evil, not in the absence of evil.
As good seed in the Kingdom, we cannot be tolerant of evil. But the elimination of evil is not our task. We are not Christian superheroes with masks and capes efforting to stamp out evil. Many who make their task fighting evil end up becoming evil in the process.
On May 31st, 51 year old Scott Roeder walked into a church and murdered renowned abortion doctor George Tiller. When police caught up with Roeder 170 miles later, he surrendered without incident. When Roeder was brought before the judge to enter his plea, he pled “not guilty,” citing that his homicide was justifiable in face of the evil performed by Tiller in his Kansas clinic. As members of the Kingdom we are not fighting evil. God has not delegated that job to us. We are, however, to overcome evil by outshining evil. Evil is overcome by good (Romans 12:9-21). Our job is to be fruitful and to reflect the glory of God in and through our lives (Daniel 12:3).
Judgment will someday come where good and evil will be clearly separated. The consummation of the kingdom brings a sifting. The one who sows the seed is also the one who directs the harvest. But this final judgment will not come until the end of the age when evil will be destroyed once for all.
The plants are identifiable and distinguishable through their fruit. The farmer knows which is wheat and which is weeds. Members of God’s Kingdom are authenticated by their fruit. The evidence is our fruit, not our words. Fruit is what authenticates your life (Matthew 7:16-23).