The movie Pixel’s comes out Friday. Here’s a brief description: When aliens intercept video feeds of classic arcade games and misinterpret them as a declaration of war, they attack Earth, using the games as models. Knowing that he must employ a similar strategy, President Will Cooper (Kevin James) recruits his childhood pal, former video-game champ and home-theater installer Sam Brenner (Adam Sandler), to lead a team of old-school arcade players (Peter Dinklage, Josh Gad) and a military specialist (Michelle Monaghan) to save the planet.
While we may not be under attack from aliens using 80’s video game characters the bible says we are under attack from a spiritual enemy. What do we do? Like the president in the movie (Kevin James) that uses what many would consider a different strategy in dealing with the attack, in our scripture today Jesus lays out a different strategy in what to do when we are under attack. It comes from a parable that Jesus told in Matthew 13: 24-30
24 Jesus then told them this story:
The kingdom of heaven is like what happened when a farmer scattered good seed in a field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, an enemy came and scattered weed seeds in the field and then left.
26 When the plants came up and began to ripen, the farmer’s servants could see the weeds. 27 The servants came and asked, “Sir, didn’t you scatter good seed in your field? Where did these weeds come from?”
28 “An enemy did this,” he replied.
His servants then asked, “Do you want us to go out and pull up the weeds?”
29 “No!” he answered. “You might also pull up the wheat. 30 Leave the weeds alone until harvest time. Then I’ll tell my workers to gather the weeds and tie them up and burn them. But I’ll have them store the wheat in my barn.” Contemporary English Version (CEV)
Most of us are familiar with the problem of weeds: in your lawn or in your flower beds.
Even those of you who now have weeds taken care of by a grounds crew have still had to fight the problem of weeks, now your paying for it. You may remember when you were a child and you had to pull the weeds in the garden. I do.
And we’re still fighting those nasty weeds. They are a problem any time of the year. Name the month and there will be a weed that is prevalent at that time.
That was pretty much the point that Jesus was making about the weeds in his parable. In other words, we’re stuck with weeds until the harvest. And that’s the key point of not only Jesus’ parable but also this post. We’re stuck with weeds until harvest time.
Now, as I see it, this is information worth having. First of all, here is a word of encouragement to the perplexed and anguished.
George Barna wrote a book called, “If Things Are So Good, Why Do I Feel So Bad? This is really one of those basic questions of life which has numerous variations – “If I’ve done all the right things why did my kids still turn out wrong?”
“Why do bad things happen to good people?”
“If I take care of my garden so well how come I keep getting weeds? If God is in charge, why do bad things happen?”
“If Jesus died for the sins of the world and rose victoriously over death – why do people still sin and die?”
“Why are there still grumpy people in the church?”
“Why are my neighbors inconsiderate when I go out of my way to be kind?”
“Why? Why? Why?”
QUESTIONS ABOUT OPPOSITION
Who brings about opposition?
“‘An enemy did this” (vs. 28a)
Later when the disciples ask Jesus to explain the parable he tell them clearly: “The enemy who sows them is the devil.” Matthew 13:39
“After a thousand volumes are written on the origin of evil, we know as much of it as Christ has told us here, ‘An enemy has done it, and this enemy is the devil.” GEORGE BARNA
- Why does God allow evil on earth?
God created us with a free will. Love allows choices.
God is a God of relationship and good relationships are built on choices and free will. When I fell in love with my wife Niki I didn’t chain her to a wall and demand that she love me. No, she has a choice to love me back or break my heart. God is the same way, we cna love him back or break His heart. Even at the dawn of creation, Adam and Eve in Genesis 1-3 we read that they had a choice of good and evil and were told not to eat from one tree. All through the bible we are told to choose good, choose life, not death. “Turn from evil and do good” Psalm 37:27
Why doesn’t God remove all evil?
‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them.” (vs. 29)
Because the wheat and the weeds are almost indistinguishable, they look alike!
We are a mixture of wheat and weeds. “The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor classes, nor between political parties… but right through every human heart and through all human hearts” Alexander Solzhenitsyn
If God started controlling things- we’d be the first to complain ‘hey, I thought you gave me free will!’ God comes back and starts wiping out murderers, rapists.. (fine by me!)… adulterers… ok, those who don’t handle anger rightly, who lust, or gossip, woops! We all start sweating! None of us would stand a chance!
If God removed evil I would have been gone a long time ago.
“Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” Psalm 51:5
Jesus is saying to us – “Hey, I don’t want you to be discouraged and to think that the dismal state of the world (or the church) is the final word. Don’t be troubled. You trust God now trust in me. I’m in charge – really I am. I may not be working this thing out the way you want it, in your preferred time frame. But my kingdom is coming into power. Its already up and functioning in some places – in the hearts and lives of some people. And on harvest day when I’m done implementing my plan all of the loose ends will be wrapped up. You won’t have to put up with this nonsense any longer.
Jesus doesn’t want us to be discouraged but to be aware.
The kingdom of heaven is like…(vs. 24)
Of course, this isn’t really a lesson in agricultural practice. It’s about the kingdom or reign or rule of God.
The Jewish people of Jesus’ day were anxiously awaiting the coming kingdom of God – that which the prophets had predicted – the time of the Messiah – the reestablishment of Jewish independence and power.
This, at least according to their thinking, would mean purifying the land of all foreign influences. And everyone was trying to figure out the best way to make this happen.
The Essenes were trying to bring the kingdom about by living purified lives out in the desert. If they could avoid all impurity they figured that they could become the pure starting point for a new Israel. Have your heard of the Dead Sea Scrolls? This group had a community near the dead sea and stored their scrolls in nearby caves which were discovered in the 1940’s.
The Pharisees, on the other hand, thought that they could bring in the kingdom with an organized and structured revival of Jewish practices.
The Zealots were trying to bring about the kingdom through revolutionary and guerillas tactics directed at the occupying Roman forces.
They were all pretty much shooting for the same thing – the coming of the kingdom of God or heaven.
So Jesus comes along and starts talking about the arrival of this kingdom – which got everyone all excited. “We’ll be freed from the Roman yoke. Once again Israel will be the light on a hill.”
But leave it to Jesus to throw a monkey wrench into their plan or perception. He tells them; indeed the kingdom is coming into power but not exactly in the way that you’re expecting. We’re going to be stuck with a few weeds for a while. We will have evil and opposition all around. Count on it! Like them we can respond to evil in an inappropriate way.
In the next post, we’ll look at the four ways we tend to respond to evil. Which one is your natural tendency?