It’s harvest season in various parts of the United States. I’m mindful of a parable Jesus shares about a harvest where the crops were infiltrated by weeds. Jesus compares the kindom of God to a farmer who sows good seed in his field. While everyone is sleeping, the enemy creeps in and sows weeds in this farmer’s field.
At first this dastardly deed goes unnoticed. But soon the field is one hot mess. When the workers ask if they should pull the weeds, the farmer tells them not to because they will risk uprooting the wheat as well. Instead, they let the weeds and the wheat grow together.
Later, at his disciples’ urging, Jesus explains this parable. We learn that the farmer represents Jesus, and the field is the world. The wheat represents the children of God, and the weeds are the “children of the evil one” (Matthew 13:38).
A couple of things: Jesus isn’t giving a universal command about how to engage evil in our world (i.e., do nothing). Nor is he offering an explanation of why evil exists. The point of this parable isn’t for us to remain silent when evil is present, but rather to reflect God’s goodness by continuing to grow even when evil is all around us and, yes, at times within us.
What if the farmer was aware that God is in the transformation business and that’s why the weeds and wheat were allowed to grow together—because God transforms weeds into wheat all the time? Perhaps the weeds aren’t the problem, and the issue is that our perspectives can be blurred by our preconceptions and egos. We look at a situation and focus on what we think is right without regard for the least among us.
Not too long ago, women’s suffrage was seen as an evil outrage and the movement was condemned by good, God-fearing people. Not too long ago, Black people were bought, sold and owned legally—even by some of this country’s founding fathers. Not too long ago, children with special needs were categorically institutionalized or much worse—even by medical professionals sworn to first do no harm. And not too long ago, members of the LGBTQIA+ community had zero legal protection for their civil rights.
Only God can decide what lives and dies in us. But be encouraged: God routinely transforms weeds into heat.
Self-proclaimed “good people” get it wrong all the time. Good people, who certainly consider themselves to be the wheat of the world, can make terrible mistakes in the name of God. Our gracious, generous, extravagant God invites us to be a voice of love against a cacophony of hate.
God’s call on our lives is real, and Jesus chooses to have us grow in and among the weeds—so much so that we can’t tell where the weeds end and the wheat begins. Jesus expects us to live in and among those whom our society would rather ignore, forget or condemn.
What if each of us were a field composed of both wheat and weeds? Only God can decide what lives and dies in us. But be encouraged: God routinely transforms weeds into wheat.
As we continue to grow, we will produce a harvest, a bumper crop! Nothing can stop our God—not the evil outside and not the evil within. Jesus calls and invites all of us to live as wheat and to allow God to refine our lives so that the weedy things about us may be transformed.
God transformed Paul on the road to Damascus. Jesus transformed his disciples by teaching them and claiming them as his friends. Jesus even transformed a little boy’s lunch into a feast that fed the multitudes. Jesus transformed the entire world through his life, death and resurrection. And the Spirit transforms you and me by her relentless presence in, with and among humanity.
Beloveds, our God is indeed in the transformation business, and I’m here to tell ya, business is good!