Tuesday, April 05, 2005

While Everybody Was Asleep...

Moving on to Matthew 13...

He put before them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well."
One of the classic answers to the problem of evil is simply to point to free will. There's evil in the world because people are able to choose evil as well as good. But all problems in Christianity must ultimately become practical problems. Why is there evil? It doesn't matter, really. There is. A better question is, what are we going to do about it?

At first glance, this parable would seem to suggest that we shouldn't do anything about it. Let it go and God will sort it out. But there's more than that here. One thing that jumped out at me when I read this last night, something that I hadn't noticed before, was that the enemy came while everybody was sleeping.

A Jewish man on Beliefnet once related to me the story of a man who died and came before the throne of God. "It terrible down there," he said. "Wars, disease, hatred.... Why don't you do something?" God answered, "I did. I sent you."

We can't just attribute the presence of evil in the world to the free choice of others. We must also think about what we can do about it. And ultimately, all of us must do something. I could get on a soapbox here about any number of issues of social justice, and maybe I should, but the point is that we need to live our faith into the world.

This parable, I think, isn't about weeds among the wheat -- it's about wheat among the weeds. The Christian faith can't be about withdrawing into our churches and waiting for the Rapture. We're called into the world to make a difference. But the Christian faith also can't be about going out and condemning the world. We must go out and bear fruit.

To translate this parable into something that I, as a resident of American Suburbia, can relate to, I'd say the kingdom of God is a green lawn that was left untended until dandelions appeared. I know from experience that if you spray the dandelions with weed killer you get a big bare spot in your lawn. I'm told that if you nuture your lawn, the good grass will choke out the weeds.

That's what I think this parable is about.


Steve Bogner said...

I like your closing paragraph about weeds in the lawn - it applies to life in general, I think.

LutheranChik said...

I agree with the observation that we spend way too much time asking "why," instead of attacking the evil. In Scripture, Jesus doesn't spend a great deal of time explaining "why"; instead he exhorts us to get on with it.