Sunday, July 17, 2011

There's Good News & The Bad News

Friends, today there’s good news and bad news. I could ask you which you’d rather hear first but since I’m going to tell you anyway I won’t.
The good news is there’s going to be a harvest. The bad news is that there are weeds growing in the field that was sown with good seed. The good news is that we don’t have to walk the field pulling out the weeds. The bad news is that the weeds might cause some problems, suffering, for the good crop.

So, I guess the question most of us have is what does it all mean? How are we to interpret this story Jesus told? Is it even possible to explain this in a way that all of us would agree on?
Jesus’ disciples asked him to tell them what it means and if we take it literally it means that the Son of Man has sown good seed, disciples, and the Evil One, the Devil, Satan, has sown bad seed. And God said leave them alone until the harvest, the end of time. The angels will gather the weeds and throw them in the fire and then they will harvest the crop that grew from the good seeds.

That’s pretty clear then, some of us are good and some of us are bad and it will all be sorted out at the end. I understand that but how do I know if I’m from the good seed or the bad seed? I’ll bet some of you have the same question.

Let’s see if we can’t make this just a little bit more difficult. Paul says in his letter to the Romans that if we let our sinful selves rule our lives then we will die spiritually. Yet if we let the Spirit help us stop doing the wrong things then we will live a true life. The true children of God are those who let God’s Spirit lead them.

So, when our sinful selves are in control we are dead spiritually, we’re weeds. Then when we allow God’s Holy Spirit help us, when we give the control to the Spirit, then we are on the way to living a true life, we’re the good crop.

Are you confused yet? This is what I think, and friends, it’s okay to disagree with me because I’m not a perfect person and I’ve been wrong more times than I’ve been right. I think that within each of us are good and bad seeds. Both have germinated and both are growing within us. The good is God’s Word, good seeds, and the bad is our sinful nature, seeds sown by the Evil One. And they’re both in a battle; sometimes a violent battle and maybe more often the battle isn’t so easy to notice. But it’s going on all the time even though we aren’t aware of it.

Or, it could be that within God’s churches there are those who are God’s disciples and there are those who are the Evil One’s disciples; and Jesus said to let them grow together. Because any attempt to remove the weeds from the crop might destroy or harm the good plants.

You understand what he’s saying don’t you. You’ve probably seen it happen. A group might decide that someone or a group of someone’s might not be suitable as members or representatives of the Church and so they suggest that they leave. When that’s done then others who may be friends of this group get upset and they leave too. And the whole body, the Church, suffers.

Jesus says just let them be and let God and his angels sort it out at the end. How many times in history have Christians with good intentions created more problems and suffering for the Church than if they had just left things alone? The Crusades and the Inquisition are just two that I can think of. And we know there are more otherwise there wouldn’t be so many different denominations in our world.

So, Good News and Bad News, Good Seed and Bad Seed, how do we sort it all out? I don’t think we need too. I think if we remember the two important commandments that Jesus told the scholar when he questioned him then we’ll be moving in the right direction. Love God with all that we are and love our neighbors are much as we love ourselves. If we focus on those two commandments and then respond to Jesus’ Great Commission, Go into all the world and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit then we should worry ourselves about the good crop or the weeds. God will take care of that for us.

Love God, love neighbors, and trust in God to take care of the rest. Don’t worry about the weeds God’s going to take care of them. Don’t worry at all; let God’s Spirit take the reins and just follow along.
I think the other point Jesus was making was that we aren’t the ones to judge whether the crop is good or bad. It just might be what we think is bad might be transformed into the good and it would be a terrible mistake to judge someone before they’ve been changed.

Good friends, I hope I haven’t created more uncertainty in your minds with my explanations. I do trust that God’s Spirit will make it all clear to each of us and show us what our work is that we’ve been called to do while we’re here.

Put your faith in the One who knows you better than anyone else and always knows your needs before you ask. God loves us and he’s got everything taken care of today and forevermore. Thanks be to God. Amen.

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