In some of the less attractive periods of Church history (think of The Inquisitions and the Salem Witch Trials), the people of God used violent means to purge from their ranks those they considered to be in league with evil. In one of the King’s stories, however, He shows us the way He prefers these things to be dealt with. As we unpack the story we will find there are no witch hunts allowed in the Kingdom of our God.
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 ESV
The King’s interpretation of this story in Matthew 13:37 – 43 reveals that He is the One sowing His good seed into the world. The good seed are those living in the Reign of God. It also reveals one of the enemy’s oldest strategies for opposing the Father’s Kingdom agenda: infiltration. Notice in the story how the enemy sows his bad seed right in with the good seed. At first no difference is noticed. Only as the crop begins to mature is it seen that there are weeds in the midst of the grain. By the same token, the enemy sows his people right into the midst of God’s people. They look just like anyone else. They may know the language of the Kingdom and be familiar with the King’s book. Over the process of time, however, it will be seen that they march to the beat of a different drummer and have a very different agenda in mind; one that works contrary to the Reign of God.
Notice how the farmer’s workers wanted to deal with the situation. They asked if they should go and pull the weeds. Every good farmer knows, however, that the roots of the weeds often become so entangled with the roots of the grain that to pull up one is to uproot the other. This action creates more problems than it solves. In the same way we can create more harm than good when we try to uproot those from our midst that we perceive to be of a contrary spirit, especially when they have worked their way into positions of leadership. A lot of innocent people could get hurt in the process. Churches could be split and the King’s testimony soiled because of the in-fighting among His people. The King assures us, however, that there will come a time when the Righteous Judge of all will separate the weeds from the grain. Until then, we continue on as best we can in obedience to King Jesus.
An Arresting Statement
There is one statement in this story, however, that grabs my attention every time I read it. Jesus says that the enemy sowed the weeds while the farmer’s men were sleeping. It is implied that if someone was keeping watch the enemy could have been stopped. This is a serious warning for us to be watchful of those who come into our midst. The enemy still tries to infiltrate the camp of God’s people with his emissaries. Everyone looks good when they first show up, but it cannot be taken for granted that they are good. Their true colors will show up in the process of time. This is likely why Paul told Timothy not to lay hands on anyone in haste (1st Timothy 5:22 – 25). Installing the wrong person in leadership can wreak havoc in a church and greatly frustrate the program of the King. While this is not a call for us to become witch hunters, it is a plea for discernment as we recognize we are still in a battle with a crafty enemy until the return of King Jesus.
Welcome to the War
Beloved, as we journey through the “laster days” this conflict will continue. Let us take heed. It is not a time to lay hands on anyone suddenly. Prove all things. Hold fast to what is good. Avoid even the appearance of evil. It’s part of the warfare in which we are engaged as we continue living in the Reign.