“Do Our Job” July 19, 2020
“Do Our Job”
Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
“If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it was necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?” ~ Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
For those of you who have been able to follow our worship services from week to week online, you will recall that last week Jonathan Booth spoke about dirt – soil, to be exact. In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus tells of a man sowing seeds. Some fall on rocky ground, some on the pathway, some in a thistle patch, and some on fertile ground. The reality of this story, if you’ll recall, rested in the fact that it is more about the soil than about the seed.
Today, we read the 2nd parable from the 13th chapter of Matthew, also about seeds and planting and harvesting. But this time, it’s different. This time it’s all about the seeds; about good seeds, about bad seeds, and what to do when they get all mixed up together. Let’s hear it one more time: from Matthew 13: (CEB)
24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like someone who planted good seed in his field. 25 While people were sleeping, an enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat and went away. 26 When the stalks sprouted and bore grain, then the weeds also appeared.
27 “The servants of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Master, didn’t you plant good seed in your field? Then how is it that it has weeds?’
28 “‘An enemy has done this,’ he answered.
“The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and gather them?’
29 “But the landowner said, ‘No, because if you gather the weeds, you’ll pull up the wheat along with them. 30 Let both grow side by side until the harvest. And at harvest time I’ll say to the harvesters, “First gather the weeds and tie them together in bundles to be burned. But bring the wheat into my barn.”’” (continued)
OK, so that’s the gist of it. Good seeds, good – bad seeds, bad. Easy breezy, right? O, the temptation is great to speak of Divine Judgement and Karma all those sorts of ideas that place us squarely on the side of the good. But that’s what we do. I mean, have you ever noticed how often people try to divide the world into, well, two kinds of people? Some of the greatest minds have commented on this particular situation, and I’d like to share a few with you if I could:
It was Mark Twain that said, “There are basically two types of people. People who accomplish things and people who claim to have accomplished things. The first group is less crowded.”
A man named James Thorpe said, “The world is divided into two types of people: those who love to talk and those who hate to listen.” Still trying to figure out where I fit in on this one…
I like this one from Joy Mills who says, “There are two kinds of people in the world: the Givers and the Takers. The difference between the two is that the Takers eat well, and the Givers sleep well at night.” Ouch!
And of course, good old Dear Abby had her say on the subject telling us, “There are two kinds of people in the world – those who walk into a room and say, “There you are!” – and those that say, “Here I am!”
And finally, from Robert Benchley’s Law of Distinction: “There are two kinds of people in the world: those who believe there are two kinds of people in the world, and those who don’t.”
Now, before we go any farther, I want to offer up a slight disclaimer, if I might. In the 2nd half of our gospel reading from Matthew 13, Jesus goes into the house where the disciples ask him to explain the meaning of the Parable of the Weeds and the Wheat – which he does. But I have to say – I really wish that he hadn’t done that. What I mean is that the beauty of the parables of Jesus is they have a way of speaking to us personally – as individuals. They’re not designed to have neat and tidy explanations. Take the story of the Prodigal son, for example. I have learned something new from that parable every single time that I have studied upon it. Parables are not meant to be cut and dried and categorized. But I get it, I guess. After all, Jesus is dealing with a people who believe there are two kinds of people in the world; the wheat and the weeds, the good and the bad, the righteous and the evil.
It was my favorite Lutheran, Delmer Chilton, who commented, “And these people who believe in two kinds of people also believe, with all their hearts, that not only are they themselves the wheat, the good people, the righteous ones; they also believe that they know who the weeds, the bad people, the evil ones are. And what is more, they apparently believe that it is their job, their responsibility, their holy obligation to rid the world of the weeds. And to all this, God says NO!” (End quote.)
To all this, God says, “No.” We don’t get to make that judgement, we don’t get to make that call. (vs. 29) 29 “But the landowner said, ‘No, because if you gather the weeds, you’ll pull up the wheat along with them. 30 Let both grow side by side until the harvest.
If you look, you will find that most of the parables in Matthew’s gospel are a description of the Kingdom of God. Through stories, Jesus was able to describe to his disciples (and to us) what this world will look like when his kingdom comes down. But here’s the kicker – these Kingdom parables are directed – are laser focused – to the folks who are called to make it happen: to the sinners and the saints, to the givers and the takers; to the talkers and the listeners. In essence, he is telling them (and us), “This is your job now, to bring about the Kingdom of God – right here and right now. I know it’s a big convoluted mess. The weeds of discontent are out of control, but don’t worry about that. Just do your job. I’ll sort it out in the end. Your job is to spread the gospel of the love of Jesus. Your job is to be the Christ in this world.”
But you know what? I believe that we are in good shape. All around the world, churches have been forced to close their doors; some for a short time, others for much longer. There are those that like to say the church might never recover. They’ll tell you that financially, this is too big of a hit. They’ll blab that without regular worship services, people will fall away, lose interest, and become complacent, bored; disinterested. But what they’re not considering is the power of the Gospel that we carry in our hearts. What they don’t know is that we don’t need a building to build up the Kingdom of God. What they don’t understand is the joy and peace and glory that comes from being in communion with a fellowship of believers. So yeah, we’re in good shape.
It’s been said that if you find a job that you enjoy, you’ll never have to work a day in your life. Brothers and sisters, I believe we have found that job. This condition of disease and turmoil will pass – they always do. In the meantime, let us lift up our hearts. Let us lift up our hearts and be glad that neither the weeds in our world nor the weeds in our hearts can keep us from the undying love of our everlasting Lord. We’re in good shape. Praise be to God for the Kingdom, for the church, and for this glorious job that we do. Amen & Shalom