Living among the weeds
Matthew 13:24-30; 36-43

We heard from the prophet Isaiah a call to God’s people not to tremble or be afraid, In the midst of whatever may be thrown at them, that he is their rock and there is no other who can take his place.  In their journey through life they kept turning to others, they lost sight of the God who was with them and listened to the voice of others who were proclaiming a ‘better’ way.

This is the same scenario that Jesus was warning about in the parable we heard earlier.  Jesus came and sowed the good seed, you and I here in this world, wanting us to grow and prosper and as we heard last week, to take the mantle of the sower and continue to spread God’s word.  But in between us the evil one came and sowed his weeds, the ones who spread his lies and evil thoughts among us, the ones who grow up and try to choke us by trying to convince us that theirs is a better way.

Jesus has a warning though.  We shouldn’t rip out the weeds, because in the process we might accidentally rip out some of the wheat.  If you’ve ever done any weeding in your garden or out in a paddock you will know what he is warning against.  When the plants are just sprouting it can be difficult to tell which is which, then as they grow it becomes clearer, and if we reach in and rip we may very well uproot the plant that we want to keep.  We have to wait until the harvest is ready and we are able to select the good from the bad, and the harvesters can take the weeds off in bundles to be burned.

This reading would be a perfect opportunity for a good old fashioned hellfire and brimstone sermon, but what you’re going to get is a short reminder that it is difficult to rip out the weeds and leave the wheat.  Why is that so?  Because looks can be very deceiving.

When you are walking up the street you may see two people, dressed very similarly, both of similar age, size, shape, and nationality etc., but by simply looking at them do you think you could tell if one was a Christian and the other not?  If you took the three boys who have been prepared for first Communion this morning and put them together with three other non-believing boys do you think you could pick which was which if you didn’t know them?  That’s right, it is impossible to tell them apart. 

If you were to try and root out the evil one in the middle of the ‘good’ ones you just couldn’t do it.  In fact the only way to have a bit of an inkling would be to view their deeds, the way they conduct themselves in life and in society, but even then it can be difficult.  These guys live in the world, they have others around them who can influence them, or lead them astray.  They aren’t perfect either, just like the rest of us, they trip up along the way, either deliberately or by accident we all break God’s laws and even some of the laws of the land.  As the bumper sticker says, “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven”.  And there are plenty of non-believers out there who live very upright and morally and ethically decent lives.  So in that case you still can’t necessarily pick the difference between a believer and a non-believer.

That puts us in a bit of a quandary then doesn’t it, how are we to judge?  Well here’s the news flash, we aren’t supposed to judge, we are simply meant to forgive each other for our failings, admonish each other when appropriate, and correct ourselves along the way too.  Only Jesus can see into our hearts, and it is him who gives us the faith in the first place by the power of the Holy Spirit.  It is only at the end of time, (which by the way only God knows when that time is, not any of the end of the world prophets that seem to be around lately) that Jesus will return to judge the living and the dead.

In the meantime what we do is live our lives and be aware of the evil that is around us, the things and people that can lead us astray.  We are no different to the people at the time of Isaiah, we go about our lives not following God’s will, then when others try and correct us we get our noses out of joint.  We fail to see God at work in our lives and more often than not fail to be thankful for it either.  We too wrestle with our identity, what does it mean to be a Christian in this post-post-modern world, where everyone seems to be out for themselves and don’t give a rip about the next guy, where everyone wants to either have nothing to do with religion or wants to create a faith and/or belief system that fits their way of thinking rather than according to scripture or the will of God.

They were discouraged, they were constantly oppressed by foreign invaders and in their time the belief was that your God’s strength was reflected in the successes of battle, and they kept being defeated.  They were questioning God.  We tend to question God about the natural disasters that keep happening, like volcanoes and earthquakes and floods and fires.  We hear the questions that the evil one throws at us through the weeds he has sewn among us and we become distracted and distressed.

Do not tremble, do not be afraid, continue to come and be in communion with our Lord and Saviour, who though he will come to judge the living and the dead has already proclaimed you forgiven and victorious, he has won the victory over death for us, we are declared forgiven and saved, come and remember it and receive that forgiveness over and over again as we await the time when Christ does indeed return to take us to our final resting place with him as we look to our future with God.

Amen.