I was struck today as I sat on my front porch about the number of weeds that proliferated my front yard, mixed in and amongst the grass, swaying in the humid air. I was also thinking of the number of people I know on social media, outspoken and outraged, furious at our country’s politics and certain social issues.
And it reminded me of a story in the Bible about weeds, a parable that Jesus painstakingly explained to the rather dense and bumbling disciples. I am like the twelve in the fact that I’m always wondering, questioning, failing, not understanding. I also drink wine and like a good footbath, so I’m just exactly like these people except I bathe more. But when God is with me, sitting next to me, whispering in my ear that he is never far, I still tremble at times about things I cannot control. I turn and ask, dimwitted and weak, for answers.
But the parable is simple. A man sowed good seed in his field, but an evil one scattered seeds of weeds in among the wheat. When the wheat sprouted, the weeds appeared. The owner’s servants were appalled, first questioning the owner. “Did you not sow good seed in your field?” they asked. I like how their first instinct was to blame the master. Are you a stupid idiot, planting weeds in your field? Were you on facebook when you planted the damn seeds and weren’t paying any attention? The bible didn’t say that part. That’s my own addition.
When the owner indicated it was done unto him, the servants offered to pull them up. But the owner was insistent against it. “No,” he answered. “because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters; First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned, then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.” Matthew 13:24-30
I find this parable interesting, especially with so many people expressing righteous indignation about so many things, discussing their version of family values or the Christian way, dabbing their napkins at their own dirty faces and tisk-tisking everyone. There is so much opinion about what is right and wrong, to the extent that we not only believe our own positions, but we are personally offended if our views are not shared, re-tweeted, applauded, and encouraged. Everyone needs a stage these days, clucking and trumping themselves up. You saw what I did right there, didn’t you? Anywho.
The list is long. Attend church, pray at night, do the right thing, rebuke evil, refrain from cussing, don’t do drugs, brush your teeth, move your ass, show up on time, say thank you, eat your vegetables, support women’s rights, love everyone, hate those who do not, be funny and forgiving, unless the people are morons and then be sarcastic and disparaging, love puppies. The list changes, bullets deleted and others added, and this list is highly dependent upon your background, race, income limits, and location. I’m sure if I think about it long enough I have a list, although it’s on recycled paper embossed in neutral tones, which would be very pinterest-worthy. Because that kind of thing is important to our eternal souls. #bestlistever
This checklist we have made defines what is good and acceptable, good seeds that we are taught by our leaders or parents or upbringing. But people all have their own boxes, and it’s hard to keep track what’s on the list. Although I’m fairly certain most lists involve the virtues of coffee. Ours in particular, however, we have deemed good after much thought and supplication, and thus we feel very powerful about sharing it, encouraging others to follow it, and pointing out how wrong people are if they disagree.
Is this not what we want to do with voters we don’t agree with, people who do evil things, terrorists, racists, small-minded people, and weeds? We want to root them out, pluck them up, unfriend them, clean out the flowerbeds. If only people could just be reasonable. If only they could just do all the things on the list like we do.
But my dear friends. The friends who are so loving and supportive, reading my words and being so kind to me in all sorts of trials, friends who call me and put up with me and tell me it’s okay that I’m controlling and like linen so much and host extravagant dinner parties and have poor hearing. Hear me on this.
It’s not our job.
What Jesus is saying is that there will always be evil, weeds, distractions, sin, people who will not agree, lives that somehow proliferate but bear no fruit, Kardashians (I’m sorry Kim darling you’re so fun). And yet we are to live amongst all the noise, the hard, the negative. We must rise up our heads higher, and keep putting our roots down deeper, and realize that someday the weeds and the wheat will be separated by hands more powerful and more discerning than we can ever be. We are not to play God, for we are not equipped for this task. We trust the angels to know our hearts, and to protect us from harm. That is our comfort. Truly, in God we trust.
So let us all grow together, being kind to one another. Even our enemies amongst us. We are provided a sun above to light our face, a field of moist earth upon which our feet rest and allows us to flourish. Let’s not look around and cast judgment or try to make circles around our hearts so that we are safe. We are never safe. Living in a world of temptations means we have to find the inner strength to survive.
And survive we will. Tall and strong and hearty, like wheat stalks rustling in the harvest breeze. Yes, there are racists and haters amongst us. Protect yourself, but it’s not your job to round them up and eliminate them. It’s your job to grow tall, produce fruit, trust God, and thrive.
Also it’s your job to bathe. Because hello. I am standing right here next to you and we all share the same air.