In Matthew 13, Jesus makes an interesting comparison between the world in which the church exists, and the frustration of a field full of weeds. He gives the parable in verses 24-30, then explains it in verses 36-43. Now, I’m not much of a gardener. My first attempts at helping my aunt with the chore of weeding her garden were not the most successfully executed. She has several strawberry plants that, for some strange reason, were being crowded by out-of-place, deeply rooted bits of grass. These grassy weeds were so close to the strawberry plants that the blades were often intertwined with the strawberry plant’s leaves. Why couldn’t the weeds be an inch away from the strawberry plants? Why did they have to be right there? Frustrated, I did my best to separate them and pull only the roots of the grass plant out, but occasionally I ended up damaging the strawberry plant as well.
Jesus told His disciples that God specifically sowed only good seed in the world, but that someone – an enemy – came and sowed tares in the world to cause problems for the sons of the kingdom (13:38-39). In His parable, He gave them an image much like the one I described above: God doesn’t separate the good from the bad while they’re growing, because the possibility is that some of the good may be pulled along with the bad. Think about it; the unrighteous have opportunity to repent and turn to God so long as they are alive. 2 Peter 3:9 tells us that God is patient, “not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” So we know why they’re not pulled up right away. But, what about the strawberry plants? Do they just have to deal with the discomfort of being crowded by the weeds that threaten to choke the life out of them?
Girls, I don’t know about you, but there have been times when I have wondered how long God expects for me to fight for my spiritual life by keeping myself as far away from bad influences as I can. It isn’t easy! The ones in this world who want to bring you down – the promoters of immodesty, sexual immorality and unrighteousness – would love nothing better than for you to give up and become one of them. But pay close attention to the rest of the story. Jesus describes to His disciples in verse 40 a vivid image of what will happen to those sons of the evil one: they will be gathered up and burned with fire. Ouch! In verse 41-42, He keeps the heat coming for posers who pretend to belong in the strawberry patch: they will be separated out just the same and be thrown into the fire as well. But for those who are sons of the kingdom – legitimate, real disciples that let the good seed take root in their hearts – they will shine forth in the kingdom of their Father (verse 43). They alone are left to be gathered up by the Father into His kingdom forever.
If we want the benefit of being a child of God, we cannot allow ourselves to be influenced by the world. The wicked in the world are there on purpose: Satan knew exactly what he was doing when he sowed the bad seed that produced wickedness in the world. Christians can be fooled into thinking that their involvement in unrighteousness won’t take away their salvation. But Jesus says the angels have a special job to do at the end of the age – they are to gather out of His kingdom (a.k.a – the church, in this context) that is in the field “all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Don’t be a poser, and don’t let yourself be caught off your guard by the suffocating influence of the world. Keep your eye on the goal: you WANT to be in the kingdom of the Father, and you want to shine like the sun at the end of time. You want to be rescued from the weeds that make your life difficult and you don’t want to end up in the same place they do! She who has ears, let her hear – Are you in the kingdom?
By Keeley Rollert
Keeley Rollert and her husband, David, are currently students at the Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver. They were married December 2008, and they look forward to working in whatever ministry God has planned for them when they finish school in May, 2011.