Leave the weeds.
His slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest
My mom had a great bookshelf in her room. I used to sit in front of that bookshelf just pondering the titles – classics of literature, a book on the adopted family, and a set of books in a series about homes and gardens. These books had to date from the late 1950s or early 1960s. I can imagine my parents amassing this encyclopedia of home and garden just after they purchased their house.
These books were beautifully illustrated. They had architectural drawings, garden layouts, and idealized drawings and photos of beautifully manicured and cultured lawns and gardens. I wanted that! I would look out the windows of our home, holding the books, and imagined creating that look in our small back yard; its existing look not perfect enough. Oh, and there were weeds. Weeds were the enemy of perfection.
You can imagine my surprise on one of those idyllic summer Sundays as Jesus’ parable of the wheat and the weeds was read. We had to leave the weeds. My little structured world of perfect lawns and raised flower beds had to take a back seat to Jesus’ command. Some in our congregation live this today. They allow nature to take its course, not disturbing the wheat or the weeds. I think they understand better than I did.
In its essence, Jesus’ parable is about conflict and destruction. The Jewish people would have understood that enemies sowed choking weeds in crops, a war tactic aimed at destruction. Jesus likened the sowing of weeds to the work of the enemy, Satan, who in all respects seeks to destroy us. The slaves, we who follow Jesus, have an initial reaction to destruction that itself focuses on destruction. Let’s go out and destroy the weeds. Abigail Van Buren once said, “People who fight fire with fire usually end up with ashes.” Destruction of the weeds only leads to the destruction of the good. The result of the sinful tendency in us is our giving in to destruction.
As Jesus’ people, we are called to plant, nurture, feed, grow, and also bear the weeds. We are not called to the position of harvester. That is Jesus’ job. By our action, perhaps in the weeds, we will find a new crop for the Lord. We will give all the chance and opportunity to grow. In the midst of conflict we are to reject destruction and leaven the world for growth.