By Dr. Kevin Thomas —
We love to choose sides. As children, we played “Cops and Robbers.” As we grew older, we divided ourselves by allegiance to sports teams, style of clothing, country versus rock n roll, or jocks versus nerds. With the passage of adolescence, our divisions began to center around world views: republican, democrat, conservative, progressive, evangelical, or fundamentalist. Our groups make us feel safe. By surrounding ourselves with like-minded people, we protect ourselves from other, uncomfortable viewpoints. All the people in my group help to convince me that I’m right, so the other groups must be wrong. Kept in perspective, these divisions can be entertaining and even helpful. Rivalries can be fun, and opposing opinions can shape better policy. Lately, though, we seem to have lost perspective. We live in a sharply divided world where we demonize the other side. Cooperation comes to a standstill. We live in an ideological stalemate, with all sides convinced that they alone are right.
Against a very similar backdrop, Jesus told a story (Matthew 13:24-20). A farmer sowed good wheat. While he slept, an enemy sowed tares (weeds) among the wheat. When both came up, the workers offered to weed out the tares. The wise farmer knew better. While there certainly were good plants and weeds, it was nearly impossible to distinguish between the two. One was life-giving, the other poisonous, but from all appearances they were the same. Even if the workers could identify the weeds, their roots were so entangled with the wheat that they couldn’t pull one without damaging the other.
Perhaps from a divine perspective, our differences are not as stark as we think. Maybe we’ve each glimpsed the truth from a different angle. Even if some weeds have grown up among us, it may be impossible to tell. Attacking one group will almost certainly damage us all. So, what are we to do? Ignore evil? Not at all.
The farmer explains. At harvest time, it will be obvious which fruits are good and which are bad. Then they can be separated. At our final judgment, the Lord of the harvest will make the decision that only God is qualified to make.
In the meantime, “Let them both grow until harvest time” (Matthew 13:30). In a horribly divided world, may we demonstrate the love of Christ by living in peace with all people.