Summary: This sermon will enable you to discover the cause of conflict in the church and show you how to deal with it in practical ways.
THE PARABLE OF THE WEEDS
July 7, 2002
Pastor Steve Dow
You don’t have to look to hard these days to discover that we are living in a world that is filled with conflict. There is conflict between nations. There is conflict in the Middle East. There is conflict in Afghanistan. There is conflicts between political parties. There is conflict between spouses. There is conflict between parents and children. And there is conflict in the church.
Conflict in the world can be understood, but conflict in the church is another story. We understand conflict between political leaders of rival parties, but why should there be conflict between church leaders? We understand sibling rivalry, but why should there be conflict between God’s children?
Jesus tells the Parable of the Weeds to explain why there is conflict in his kingdom in this present age. According to Jesus there are three reasons for conflict in the church. First, there is an enemy. Satan is the enemy of God, His children, and His church. He will stop at nothing to stir up conflict in these areas. Second, there are false Christians in the congregations. Jesus said that not every one who said, “Lord, Lord” would enter the kingdom. These wolves in sheep’s clothing operate as Satan’s undercover agents in the church. Third, these two cannot be separated until the end of the age. Jesus is telling us this is the way things are going to be until he returns to establish is physical kingdom on this earth.
A Dutch professor took time to calculate the cost of an enemy soldier’s death at different epochs in history. He estimated that during the reign of Julius Caesar, to kill an enemy soldier cost less than one dollar. At the time of Napoleon, it had considerably inflated to more than $2,000. At the end of World War I, it had multiplied several times to reach the figure of some $17,000. During World War II, it was about $40,000. And in Vietnam, in 1970, to kill an enemy soldier cost the United States $200,000. (Plain Truth, April, 1988, p.15) The point is, conflict is costly. Abigail Van Buren once said, “People who fight fire with fire usually end up with ashes.” Therefore, it is vitally important that we learn how to deal with this tenuous situation.
How To Deal With Conflict In The Church:
1. Be Perceptive. (13:25,39)
The text tells us that the enemy, Satan, came and sowed the weeds while everyone was sound asleep. It was a common practice in ancient warfare to destroy your enemies crops. If you could destroy his agricultural base, then his military power would soon follow suit. Soldiers who can’t eat can’t fight. So step number one is to be perceptive. We must be aware of what Satan is up to. We can ill afford to fall asleep on the job. That is why the scriptures are filled with admonitions to be alert. Ephesians 6:18 says, “Be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” And 1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
A small bottle containing urine sat on the desk of Sir William Osler. He was then the eminent professor of medicine at Oxford University. Sitting before him was a classroom full of young wide-eyed medical students listening to his lecture on the importance of observing details. To emphasize his point, he reached down and picked up the bottle. Holding it high, he announced: “This bottle contains a urine sample for analysis. It’s often possible by testing it to determine the disease from which the patient suffers.”
Suiting action to words, he dipped a finger into the urine and then into his mouth as he continued: “Now I am going to pass this bottle around. Each of you please do exactly as I did. Perhaps we can learn the importance of this technique and diagnose the case.”
The bottle made its way from row to row as each student gingerly poked his finger in and bravely sampled the contents with a frown. Dr. Osler then retrieved the bottle and startled his students with these words: “Gentlemen, now you will understand what I mean when I speak about details. Had you been observant, you would have seen that I put my index finger into the bottle but my middle finger into my mouth” (1001 Great Stories, P. 305)! Just as this professor was able to get his students to taste urine because they weren’t paying attention, so Satan gets the church embroiled in conflict because the Christians aren’t paying close enough attention to his actions.
Nothing will blind our spiritual perception faster than tolerated sin. We must be aware of what is going on in the culture around us. What Satan calls a woman’s right to choose, God calls murder. What Satan calls an alternate lifestyle, God calls immoral and says that such people will never enter His heaven (Mt. 6:9,10). It is not the place of the church to go militant and by force make people go to church and stop doing this, that, and the other thing like the Puritans who put people in the stocks for missing the Sunday service. But it is our place to call sin sin and to call sinners to repentance and holy living. And it is our place as citizens in our democratic government to be salt and light as we cast our votes.