Friday, July 1, 2011

Weed-eaters in the Church

Have you ever thought of using a gas-powered weed-eater in a flower bed? If you have, do you honestly think you could eradicate the weeds without damaging at least one flower?

If you are a gardener or fond of gardens you wouldn't likely dream of doing something so careless. You, and even someone whose thumb is covered in the slightest shade of green, would shudder at the thought of taking a weed-eater to a flowerbed. Even the novice gardener would opt for a set of pruning shears or some other handheld garden tool in order to avoid harming any of the flowers. The reason is flowerbeds are typically small compact areas, with the flowers growing in close proximity to one another.

Great care is required while trimming and weeding small flowerbeds. Better to let the weeds grow until such time as they can be removed from the flowerbed without harming the flowers. Or, if time is of the essence and it becomes necessary to quickly remove the weeds, great care should be taken in weeding the flowerbed. Again, one doesn't want to do anything to harm the beautiful flowers.

He put another parable before them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, 'Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?' He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.' So the servants said to him, 'Then do you want us to go and gather them?' But he said, 'No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn'" (Matthew 13:24-30).
Sadly, today there are many "weed-eaters" in the Church--men and women who see it as their mission to uproot, cast off, and otherwise dispose of what they consider weeds in the Church. And they always seem to forget (conveniently so) the important parable just quoted. These "weed-eaters," who delude themselves into thinking it is their "calling," for the sake of the Church and the glory of Christ, to not only identify false converts in local churches but to also harass them (what the "weed-eater" would call "speaking the truth in love") to the point that the accused leaves the church. Yet Jesus, using the striking image of a parable, calls His disciples to do the opposite.

If you look closely at the parable, Jesus makes a distinction between the servants and the reapers. The "servants" are over-zealous followers of Jesus Christ and the "reapers" are the holy angels. The master (Jesus Christ) instructs the servants to leave the tares (false converts) be, lest they damage some of the wheat (genuine believers) in the process of rooting out the tares.

Matthew Henry, in his commentary on the parable, writes:
Note, It is not possible for any man infallibly to distinguish between tares and wheat, but he may be mistaken; and therefore such is the wisdom and grace of Christ, that he will rather permit the tares, than any way endanger the wheat. It is certain, scandalous offenders are to be censured, and we are to withdraw from them; those who are openly the children of the wicked one, are not to be admitted to special ordinances; yet it is possible there may be a discipline, either so mistaken in its rules, or so over-nice in the application of them, as may prove vexatious to many that are truly godly and conscientious. Great caution and moderation must be used in inflicting and continuing church censures, lest the wheat be trodden down, if not plucked up. The wisdom from above, as it is pure, so it is peaceable, and those who oppose themselves must not be cut off, but instructed, and with meekness, 2 Tim. 2:25. The tares, if continued under the means of grace, may become good corn; therefore have patience with them.
"It is not possible for any man infallibly to distinguish between tares and wheat..." Sadly, there are professing followers of Christ who claim they can distinguish, without question or error, the tares from the wheat--the false convert from the true. Beware of ones such as these, for they themselves could very well be tares among the wheat; and not simply tares that grow upright (easily distinguishable) amongst the wheat, but rather tares that are intertwined with the wheat--appearing to be real wheat while choking the same.

Are you a tare-hunter in the Church? A weed-eater? Are you so prideful as to believe you have the ability to infallibly distinguish the tares from the wheat? Do you arrogantly assert yourself as a "reaper," a task given to the holy angels, and not to you; instead of humbly serving Christ as a slave in the field?

Repent, lest you shipwreck your faith. Examine yourself. Test yourself to see if you are truly in the faith. Look closely in the mirror. What you see may not be amber waves of grain.