SER # 30Wa
FIRST UMC – NEBRASKA CITY
7TH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
SUNDAY JULY 19TH 2020
TEXTS: MATTHEW 13: 24 – 30; 36 – 43
THEME: NO PERFECT WORLD.
We are back to the parable of a farmer and his farm.
In this Parable we have to realize that both the wheat and the weed are in the same garden and are growing together. In other words, we have a garden planted with wheat and the weeds shows up. I have also come to learn since I have been in Nebraska that if Corn grows in the Soybeans field corn becomes weed that need to be sprayed. Same with if soybeans grow in the cornfield it becomes weed that need to be killed. Having a mixed garden can be fun as well as challenging. One has to figure out what crops do well together and that which does not.
The challenge though comes when we have the weed in the mix that look like the real plant that we planted.
Today we move on to talk about the Sower (God) the seed (us) and weed (people) –evil doers planted by the devil. In this parable we are not the soil but the seed. Our parable today has an underlying message warning that there will be judgment on the final day of our life. At the same time there is the life to be lived before the judgment day and then question is; can we afford to live with others who (weeds) who belong to the devil? Jesus tells this parable to the audience that included his disciples and later on the disciples are seeking explanation for the meaning of the parable. Once again J. Ellsworth Kalas has a different take on this parable from the booklet on “Parables From The Back Side” where he call the parable “The Embarrassed farmer.” But this parable touches on what we see in everyday life. Evil mixed with good and we are forced to take a pick. Sometimes the evil comes in small prints. We are told in the story the people discovered when it was too late when the crops were growing and had started bearing the grain when the weed was noticed:
- The field is the world (our soul)
- The land owner is Jesus the sower of good seeds – children of the kingdom
- The sower of bad seeds is the devil
- We can also be servants
Kalas presupposition is that we find ourselves sometimes being the bad seed while other times we are good seed. It becomes real when we notice people change in how they treat others and on how they deal with people that are connected to them. Churches are not exceptional for we will find people that will fight any good idea as long as it was not their idea. Somewhere down the road their spirits change and become big supporters. The wheat here can also represent the good spirit in people while the weed would present the bad spirit in people. With this in mind it is therefore easy for one to move from good to bad or bad to good. What will count is the harvest time and what side we will be on.
Farmers (us –or the church) try to deal with the problem of the weed in different ways:
- It has been known in some Churches for one to become part of the fellowship, one can’t use tobacco or alcohol if they want to belong. They can’t even attend some movies or be involved in dancing. They insist on certain sets of rules that keep others off
- Others enforce doctrinal purity to protect the good seed. Not having open communion, not even allowing people who think different from the traditions be part of the fellowship
- Other like to keep their “farm small.” That way they choose who can join and who can’t. They are closed membership where they only allow people who already have family members there. No outsiders.
We can therefore draw four quick lessons:
- There will always be hostile power in the world: The powers will always seek to destroy the good. The bad or good depends on the same soil for nutrient. In our story, the weed and wheat are counting on the same ground so does the evil and good of the world count on the same resources to survive. Therefore, the story teaches us we have to be on guard. Bad seed will always be found among us. It is not our responsibility to pull the weeds the angels will do it at the end. It is not our duty to clear the rolls of the Kingdom of God. Even obvious weed deserves some grace.
- It is hard to distinguish those of the Kingdom of God with those of the devil. Some people may appear good but they are bad. Others will appear bad but they are good. It is good to remember that it is not our work to clear the rolls for the kingdom. The fear is always to think that there are no more faithful people yet we are reminded God always has his remnant. The bad seed are sometimes sown when our defenses are down. Sometimes we get influenced by the media in a wrong way that lead us to the wrong path that makes us to become the weed (story of 2 wolves living in us).
- Don’t be quick to pass judgment: God is the judge and none will pass without being judged by him. Kalas reminds us we might feel like we are the wheat today and we can find ourselves being like the weed tomorrow because of our actions. People we think that they are weed today may prove somewhere down the road to be better plants. I am thinking of Saul when he persecuted believers. He was a weed right there but when his life was changed, he became something new. He became the good plant. Life can change with time. We are judged by the grace of God. We can only count on the grace of God everyday. (A story is told of a believer who went to heaven and met St. Peter at the gate of heaven. Peter told him he had to answer a few simple questions before he could be allowed to earn himself 1000 points to allow him get to heaven. The gentleman agreed. First question, what did you do to serve God on earth? He answered, “I was a preacher – 5 points, I visited sick he said – 2 points, I helped the poor 5 points, I gave my tithes – 2 points. The he stopped and looked at St, Peter and said by this rate it will be impossible to get to Heaven unless by His Grace – 1000 points come in.)
- Judgment will come at the end: Therefore, don’t do any hasty judgment to anybody because the judge is waiting at the end. No sinner will escape the final judgment. God knows our full journey of life and when that time comes, he will be fair. What we may have thought has no value it may be of a great value to God. And its value may not be judged by the look but by what is inside. It is only God who can see the inside hence he becomes the perfect judge of us all. Never forget that we belong to God in the first place and that what gives us the value. When we stand before the master we will respond to the simple questions: I was sick in hospital, hungry, naked, was in jail and even homeless, what did you do? (Matthew 25:31ff). It is in responding to the challenges that face, that God may honor our actions.