Wheat and weeds in God’s garden

Real waiting creates an active space for evil to resolve itself and good to re-assert itself.

Matthew 13:24-29

I am an activist. I confess it now. I have always believed that part of my responsibility as a Christian is to call out evil, to use what power I have to improve our community. So I write letters to politicians and newspapers. I sign petitions, although I only click on the Facebook polls that are of most concern to me. I fear cheapening my voice if I am simply a ‘clicktivist’!

I am not sure if I have made a difference in calling attention to Indigenous deaths in custody, or in protesting the inappropriately cruel treatment our country metes out to refugees, but I am convinced it has been worth trying.

I encourage you too to be actively involved in God’s task of making a better world.

Escape from garden! Weed or flower?

So it’s puzzling, in this parable about wheat and weeds, to be told to leave the weeds. Not to act, but to wait until the end for God to give judgement. Not acting feels as if one is being unfaithful to God ‘who makes all things new’ Revelation 21:5.

The parable of wheat and weeds reminds us that, while there are times to be an activist, there are also times to stand back and wait. The evil storm will blow itself it. The weeds will be destroyed at harvest-time. Or God may simply want to deal with it in God’s own way.

This parable invites me to pray for two gifts: one is the gift of discernment, so that I know when God desires our action, and when God desires us not to act. Saint Paul tells us that discernment is a gift of Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 12:10), a gift that comes as we live out our Christian commitment.

The second is a spirituality of waiting. ‘Wait for the Lord;’ says the Psalmist, ’Be strong, and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.’ (Psalm 27:14). We resist waiting, because we think waiting is passive; but real waiting creates an active space for evil to resolve itself and good to re-assert itself. Waiting is holding the space for God, or someone else, to act for good. Waiting is actively trusting that the seeds sown in God’s garden will grow and bear fruit.

This parable of God’s garden, with its wheat and weeds, reminds me that my activism has only a limited role. It invites me to see activism in perspective, and to implore God to give me the two gifts of discernment, taking time to see what God is doing here, and the courage and the strength to wait, and create change by intentionally not acting.

Author: Ted Witham

Husband and father, Grandfather.Franciscan, writer and Anglican priest.

2 thoughts on “Wheat and weeds in God’s garden”

  1. Interesting post and I admire that you write letters and question how we treat our Indigenous People and Refugees (yes, capital “R”). However, I also think Jesus was an activist and He didn’t stand by while the temple was desecrated. He responded with “righteous anger” (maybe discernment comes in here) and did something about a situation He saw as unacceptable. I think we are Jesus and God’s vessels here on earth and our task is to be good stewards of what has been given us and if that entails giving a voice to the voiceless and vulnerable then we need to do that. I need to do that. In the words of someone wise “evil persists when good men do nothing. I think we’re “good men” – God’s men and women – and it behoves us to intercede as we can. So, maybe that’s writing letters or face-to-face support for disenfranchised groups, or speaking up/removing oneself from conversations that perpetuate bigotry and discrimination. Not wanting to argue the Word of God but unless the “wheat” can strengthen itself to outsmart the weeds then of course the weeds will eventually strangle us all. Linda

    1. Thanks for your thoughtful response, Linda. I agree that as Christians we are expected to be “good people”. standing up for the good. Jesus did respond actively to many situations, and I have no argument with you on that. In John 6, though, Jesus withdraws rather than take up the option of being made king and directly confronting the Roman occupiers (John 6:15). Jesus discerned the times to confront, as with the Temple merchants, and the times not to engage.
      In practice, “waiting”, not acting, can be harder to do, but when you discern the situation accurately, it can be powerful. For example, someone in conversation among friends makes an overtly racist comment. You can choose not to respond, but to withdraw from the conversation. Rather than arguing, your silence then may have more effect.

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