This year, I’ve taken up gardening. I wrote a little bit about that here. Before you write me off as a girly man, hear me out.
I built four raised plant beds to plant some mini-gardens in my back yard. I don’t have room for a full-on garden, and raised beds tend to look tidier. In addition, they’re supposed to cut down on weeds. Based on the word supposed, you can guess that that’s not exactly the case. At least it’s not so when you use dirt that’s full of weed seeds. You see, I got the dirt from my grandfather’s farm, and though the dirt is unbelievably rich, it had some weed seeds in it.
My wife and I planted lots of vegetables: carrots, bibb lettuce, red cabbage, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, and other stuff I can’t remember. We also have herbs and flowers in the garden. As they began to germinate and eventually sprout up out of the ground, we got really excited. Except that we weren’t sure whether these new green sprigs were veggies or weeds.
“Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.” (Matthew 13:24-26)
There will always be “weeds among the wheat” in the church. You can be upset about that if you’d like, or do something about it. Does the fact that there are “weeds” (and by “weeds,” I mean that there are those there who don’t really belong to the kingdom of God, i.e., they’re not saved) bother you? I hope it does, because it should! Weeds are not meant to be there! Someone else, not the true Gardener, has placed them in the garden. What should we, the Church, do about these unwelcomed, ugly, ultimately life-sucking weeds? Cut them off? Cast them out? Try to build our garden so that no weeds enter (which is not possible, by the way)? No. That is unloving and un-Christlike. The answer to the question, “what do we do with the weeds?” is that we love them. We evangelize them. We live and preach the Gospel in hopes that God transforms them from a weed into a beautiful plant that bears fruit for the Kingdom. Instead of sucking the life out of the Church, we plead with them to give the desire of their heart to Christ and begin pouring life back into the Church!
Don’t forget…you were a weed once, too.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:43-45)