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Should We Kill the Weeds? July 20, 2014

Posted by sandhandrews in Sermons.
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Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

Sixth Sunday after Pentecost

July 20, 2014

 

Focus: God will deliver the righteous.

Function: That the hearers spend time in the fields.

Structure: Walking through the text.

 

Should We Kill the Weeds?

 

It was just over a month ago that I got so frustrated with my lawn that I took it to Facebook.  I posted “I’m declaring war on the dandelions in my yard.  Anyone found an attack strategy that was particularly effective?”  If you know any of the people I’ve spent time with in my life, you might imagine I got a variety of answers.

From the simple ones, giving real, practical advice, to the sarcastic, to the humorous.  But, the funniest one by far was one of Hannah’s relatives.  He suggested that we lob grenades into our yard…of course, warning the neighbors first.  That would certainly kill the dandelions, but there wouldn’t be anything else left either.

As goofy as that illustration was, it’s right in line with the parable we read from Matthew this morning.  The parable of the weeds, as we call it.  Jesus is again trying to help the disciples and the crowd understand the kingdom of God.

So He tells this parable:

“The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away.  So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also.  And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’  He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’  But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them.  Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”

And after confusing the crowd with another of His parables, the disciples later ask Him to explain the parable of the weeds.  And He does.  Jesus is the sower, the world is the field, the good seed are the children of God.  Weeds are the sons of the evil one, the devil snuck them in.  At the end of time, both will be gathered, us to everlasting life in the glory of God, and the wicked ones to be burned in the fire.

This is actually one of the most straightforward parables that Jesus ever tells His disciples.  And then He explains it.  So, the sermon’s over, right Pastor Steve?  Well, not quite.

You see, there are parts of this parable that we struggle with.  Right off the bat, we struggle with the idea of evil in the world, just like the workers wondering where the weeds came from.  Why was the tree in the garden in the first place if they weren’t supposed to eat its fruit?  Life would be so much easier without sin and temptation.  Why, o God, do You allow evil to exist?  Life would be wonderful without x, y, and z.  And Pastor Kath spoke to that last week.

Instead of asking why bad things happen to good people, perhaps the most powerful statement for me last week was when he reversed that question.  Why do good things happen to bad people?  That’s what we are.  We were the bad soil, the no good and worthless weeds.  But Christ, as the sower, has changed that.  He didn’t give up on us.

Despite our worthlessness and our weedyness, Christ died for us.  Instead of standing by and doing nothing, Jesus went to the cross and bled out for us.  He surrendered Himself for us.  As He says in John 12:24, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”  Jesus is that grain.  And He died.  And He has born much fruit.

He went to the cross and rose from the grave so that we would no longer be weeds, seeds of the evil one.  His death and His resurrection are the ultimate good things, and they unite us with Him.  It’s only in Him that we can say we are good.

There’s a reason I didn’t throw grenades at my lawn.  A reason other than it being massively illegal.  You see, there’s good grass there.  There are plants and trees that provide oxygen, that help the soil and make our little part of town a better looking place.  I don’t want to forfeit that.  Neither did God.  When Christ planted the seed of faith in our hearts through His sacrifice, He planted the good seed, He planted sons of the kingdom.   And if He were to uproot everything, we’d all be hurting.  You might recall how Abraham felt when he heard that God was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah.  Because we’d all lose so much that we care about at the same time.  We have relationships with the weeds, they’re our family and friends whom we love.  Instead, God is waiting for the harvest.

But for as straightforward as the parable is, we still don’t like the outcome.  We don’t like the idea that there’s a Paradise and a hell.  Our sinful nature wrestles with that daily.  We say it’s not fair.  We say, “if God is loving, He would save everyone.”

We just don’t like the idea of hell, really.  And we’re afraid today to call anyone out on their sin.  I’m sure you’ve heard someone quote the Bible to you, saying, “Don’t judge.”  “You can’t call me a sinner, you can’t say I’m going to hell, that’s so judgmental of you.”  “You’re so intolerant.”  The problem there is that we’ve watered down what it means to judge.  In the Scripture, the Judge is God.  And when judgment day comes, that decision is permanent.  But even in our courts, what the judge says goes.  This isn’t name-calling, it’s a declaration of fact, you’re either in or you’re out, you’re either guilty or you’re innocent.  And, let’s face it, apart from Christ, God says we’re all guilty.

We don’t have the power of judgment in that sense.  That’s why the Scripture actually says, “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven.”  We have no power to condemn.  We can’t make the call on whether someone’s going to hell.  Only God can.  Because only He truly knows their hearts.  But we are called upon to call sin sin.  That’s not judging.  If we’re doing it right, it’s actually loving.  It might be tough love, but it’s love.  Because we don’t want them to be weeds, we don’t want them to go to hell.  We want them to shine with us in the glory of God the Father.

And we do have the power to forgive.  God gave us that power.  The power to forgive each other and to restore our relationships.  And so, I would like to ask your forgiveness for something this morning.  As I’ve looked back over my first year of ministry among you, one of my bigger regrets is that I’ve allowed too much negativity to creep into God’s ministry.  I’ve spent too much time being pessimistic and not enough time building you up with words of love and encouragement.  Please forgive me.

That pessimism showed itself even in my yard.  See, as I look out at my yard, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.  I remember looking out over my dandelion forest and feeling depressed.  I remember getting down on my hands and knees and pulling them up by their roots one by one.  And then noticing, sadly, that it had taken a half an hour to do a few square feet.  If we look at the big picture, it’s overwhelming.  And if we’re caught up in the negative mindsets of things like pessimism, depression, anger, or criticism, then we’re doomed from the start.

You see, if we look out at the field, the harvest field, we can easily see good seed and weeds.  But the weeds can feel so vastly overpowering.  This is the part of the young adult ministry Bible class a couple of weeks ago that I didn’t get to say since we ran out of time.  This is the biggest reason why the millennial generation avoids the church today.  We’ve hedged ourselves off.  We feel we’re inadequate, incapable of helping to change the world in some way.  When Jesus says to be in the world, but not of the world, too often we take the “us against the world” approach, we have to get away from it.  I’m even guilty of preaching that way sometimes.  But, they’re looking for a “we can change the world” approach.

Millennials are disturbed by churches when they only harp on those main political issues, and ignore the big picture.  Why spend so much time on two or three hot topics, when we could spend more time serving and loving our neighbors, feeding the starving children around the world?  Helping fight and eradicate the diseases that we already have the cure for.  Providing food and shelter, counseling, addiction rehab, transportation.  So many needs.  It’s overwhelming.

But it doesn’t have to be.  You see, we’re not in charge.  We’re workers in the field.  We’re laborers and workers of the harvest.  And we’re not alone.  God is at work, constantly working His field.  And He’s put us together in this place, called us to be His workers in His field.  As a community, as a group of workers, the task is nowhere near as daunting.  And if we stop and think that the world over, there are one billion of us, the work really isn’t as overwhelming.

If we work together, if we serve side by side, we can make a difference in this world.  We can help scatter the seed that will continue to raise up new crops for the Lord.  And also, by sharing the good seed, we can see God work the miracle of turning weeds into wheat for His harvest.  Only He can make that impact on someone’s heart, to change their sinful nature into faith.

God does still love them; He does still want them to be overwhelmed by the good seed, overpowered by the love and forgiveness of our Savior Jesus Christ.  That as He rose from the dead, they rise from the dead, and that together we live and continue to work the harvest field.

As I think back on some of that positive, practical feedback I got about my yard, it applies.  In learning how weeds work, how dandelions thrive or not, I have learned that if the grass is weak and the dandelions are given a chance to grow strong, they will slowly choke out the grass, and more weeds will grow. But the reverse is also true.  If the grass is thick and the roots are strong, the dandelions can’t make it, they’re choked out.

So next spring, I’m going to work at overseeding the yard, getting as much grass to grow as possible.  If I can manage that, the weeds won’t have room to grow.  And so we as a church continue to work the field together, planting seed, growing the good crop.  As we do, there will be less and less room for evil and temptation in our lives.  Sure, Satan will attack with stronger weeds.  But we have a bigger God.  And He’s in charge.

 

 

 

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