Intro, Purpose, Plan
Why is there evil in the church? What about those who are sincere and have faith in God’s forgiveness through Jesus Christ?
Let’s understand that the church is and will always be a mixture of good and evil, but those who are righteous by faith will shine.
Let’s discuss the Parable of the Wheat and Weeds from Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 and its implications for the church.
Matthew 13:24-25 What are Tares?
In Matthew 13:24-25 Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way.” The weed was probably darnel, called cockle and false wheat. It exists worldwide, looking similar to wheat until maturity. Wheat ears are heavy. It hangs down. Darnel ears are light. It stands tall. The wicked seem to prosper while the righteous suffer. Cockle has a deeper root. Removing it would pull out the wheat. A solution is to let both grow together until harvest and separate them then, when the righteous will shine.
Matthew 13:28-29 Evils in the Church
The Church does much good in the world, like schools, universities, medical care, music, arts, literature, science, human rights, opposing slavery, influencing laws, providing orphanages, care for the hungry and poor. Why is evil also in the Church? Why did Catholics exterminate Waldensians and murder tens of thousands during the Inquisition? Why did Catholics and Protestants murder Anabaptists? Why did Calvinists murder French priests? Why do Orthodox persecute Russian Protestants? Can we weed all corruption out of church? In Matthew 13:28-29 Jesus described evil to his disciples as weeds among the wheat. “‘Should we pull out the weeds?’ they asked. ‘No,’ he replied, ‘you’ll uproot the wheat if you do.”
Matthew 13:30 Waiting Until Harvest
Do we get upset and angry with wrongdoing in the Church? Should we excommunicate all remorseless sinners until few are left in the church? Should we refuse to have communion with those who are corrupt and unresponsive to God? What if in so doing, we also offend family members and friends who are sincere Christians? In Matthew 13:30 Jesus said, “Let both grow together until the harvest.” Jesus does not ask us to tolerate evil but be patient because the responsibility is not ours but the angels’. The Church has always been a mixture of sinners and saints. We must be patient, praying for repentance and waiting until the harvest.
Matthew 13:37-39 7 Keys to the Parable of the Weeds
Jesus gave 7 keys to understanding the parable of the weeds in Matthew 13:37-39. They help us understand other parables. 1) Who really sows? “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man.” 2) Where is God working? “The field is the world.” 3) Are we God’s children? “The good seeds are the sons of the kingdom.” 4) Who are Satan’s children? “The tares are the sons of the wicked one.” 5) Who is ultimately responsible for evil? “The enemy who sowed them is the devil.” 6) How long must we wait? “The harvest is the end of the age.” 7) Who harvests? “The reapers are the angels.”
Matthew 13:38 The Children of the Kingdom
In Matthew 13:38 we read in the parable of the wheat and weeds, “The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one.” Outward appearances can be deceiving. Only Jesus can truly judge between the wheat and weeds in the world. Even in the church, not all professing Christians are righteous. The visible church has always been a mixture of good and evil (1 John 2:19-20; Matthew 7:21-23; Romans 9:6; 2 Peter 2:20-22). At harvest the righteous will be visible because the children of the kingdom “will shine forth as the sun.”
Matthew 13:41 Judgmentalism & Judgment
We’ve all met people who complain that the Church is too judgmental. It’s true — in part — but the statement itself also judgmental. The Church does not own irrational and snobbish criticism exclusively. It’s common to all. We try to make good judgments by discerning between right and wrong. When is judgment right and when is it wrong? In Matthew 13:41 Jesus said, “The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil.” If someone is condemned or not is not ours to judge? What is Jesus’ alone to judge is not our business.
Matthew 13:40-43 Jesus, Liberal or Conservative
Liberals and conservatives accuse each other of evil. Do conservatives protect mere human traditions, traditions inspired by God or traditions like Moses’ bronze snake that have become useless idols or all the above? Do liberals depart from the Bible or refuse to interpret the Bible legalistically or both? Jesus is described as liberal or conservative on a variety of issues, but He is always orthodox. In Matthew 13:40-43 Jesus used the term weeds, “They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”
Righteousness in the New Testament is not by sinless perfection, but by faith. We all have sins we know about and sins we are blind to. The only thing that will save us is faith in God’s forgiveness of our sins through Jesus Christ. It is not our job to judge whether or not a particular person is wheat or weed in God’s field by their obvious sins. That is for the angels and Christ on that great day of judgment. Thank God that he can convert any one of us into wheat. Let us all pray for God’s forgiveness and focus on the future when the righteous will shine like the sun.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.