Summary: Give up your dreams of a “pure church”. The reality is there will always be a mixture of true followers and hypocrites. Make sure you’re ready for the judgment day and get on with the work of being fruitful!
I’ve got a confession to make. I love Roundup. I love the feeling of just going around, spraying a little bit of poison and then in a few days seeing those weeds shrivel up and die! It’s so much more fun than actually pulling the weeds up!
But, the problem with Roundup is it can be TOO effective. I’ve been known to use it a little too much around things that are supposed to grow. Sometimes I’ve actually killed flowers that were just coming up, thinking they were in fact weeds. Only later when Ann would point to them and say, “You didn’t spray these did you?” would the truth come out.
The point I’m trying to make is sometimes it’s difficult to get rid of the weeds without also hurting some of the plants you actually WANT to grow.
Jesus told a similar story in describing life in the Kingdom of God. It’s a story that is meant to teach us something about the reality of living in this world – and what exactly we should be spending our energy on in serving our Lord!
The story is found in Matthew 13:24-30
Matthew 13:24Jesus told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.
27"The owner’s servants came to him and said, ’Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’
28" ’An enemy did this,’ he replied.
"The servants asked him, ’Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
29" ’No,’ he answered, ’because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. 30Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’ "
The “weeds” that were sowed in the field with the wheat was almost certainly a weed called “bearded darnel”, which is very similar to wheat and difficult to distinguish from wheat when the plants are young. The roots of the two plants entangle around each other, making it next to impossible to pull up the weed without destroying the roots of the wheat. When the actual heads of grain appear on both plants, there is no doubt which plant is which. The wheat grain is much heavier and larger than the bearded darnel. (NIV Commentary)
Once separated from the wheat, the weeds would be burned (along with the chaff from the wheat), thus ensuring they would not grow and multiply.
All of this would have been common knowledge to Jesus’ audience, though it may be new information for us. But even so, the disciples were again mystified as to the spiritual significance of Jesus’ teaching, and so when we pick up the story in verse 36 we read this:
Matthew 13:36-43 (NIV)
36Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, "Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field."
37He answered, "The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. 38The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, 39and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
40"As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.
Christians should not expect to ever be free from the effects of Satan in this world.
He will continue trying to steal, kill, and destroy.
He is the father of lies.
He will use people who are not true followers of Christ to hinder the work of the Church.
Sometimes he will even get some of these weeds into the “field” of a church.
God wants his followers to spend energy bearing fruit, rather than working to oust sin and sinners from the church.
We only have so much time and energy. We can spend it on “witch hunts” to somehow purify the church and keep us all safe from Satan (as if that were possible), or we can spend our time and energy doing what we talked about last week: developing strong roots to pull in spiritual nourishment, and becoming fruitful for the Kingdom.