Message: The Church will always contain more than its fair share of nastiness, but weeding it out is a temptation to abandon the way of Christ and make things worse.
This message is based on Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 (Year A, Proper 11). Please note that this sermon is not advocating turning a blind eye to abuse or any other illegal activity in churches.
A question then, in the fields, and now, in the church: “Why aren’t people in the church able to get along peacefully and lovingly?” Where did all these weeds come from?
We expect advice on how to get rid of the problem, but we are told that we had better learn to live with the problem or we will end up becoming the problem.
So what is Jesus telling us about the sort of people we are and the sort of situation we face in this church and in every church?
- Pettiness will be in every church; where the Messiah sows good seed, Satan will try to spoil it.
- Places that promise healing and renewal will attract those who are damaged and unstable.
- Some people come to church to hide from God. Every church has some people who talk the talk but don’t really respond to God.
Before we look around to categorise each other, we remember that these things are in all of us. I come here with: bitterness and anger from the wounds of my past; parts of me willing to respond to Christ, but holding something back, and hiding it. So do you. It’s easier to spot in others!
Human Weeding will Go Wrong
We are tempted to take action to make the church holy, to make room for the good wheat of love, mercy and justice to grow. We look to Jesus for advice on how to go weeding in his name, but Jesus says “Don’t! Don’t even try!” Why?
- Weeding is not our job, but God’s. Our job is to be good wheat, not to be the gardener.
- We’d get it wrong. The weed described in the story is a common grass that looks a lot like wheat. Given that we are all something of a mixture of each, no wonder.
- Any attempts to weed out the problem (people or things) will uproot and harm the innocent.
Conclusion: Growth, not Weeding
“Let the wheat and the weeds grow together.” It is that word “let” or “permit” or “allow”. The same Greek word also means “forgive”. This is not just a passive ignoring of the problem. It is an active naming and forgiving of it. We are being told that the means to purge the community of malice and pettiness and nastiness is not through the violence of weeding but through the grace of courageous forgiving and accepting.
Let’s allow the weeds and the wheat to grow together until the harvest, and when the harvest comes, we may find that we have a whole lot more wheat and many fewer weeds than we thought.
This message is based on a Sermon by © Nathan Nettleton, 17 July 2005, which can be found at www.LaughingBird.net