Wednesday, December 2

Jesus Story Teller - Part 7

I had my first alcoholic drink with the pastor's kid. I was in high school. I was going to the Winter Formal with some good friends from church. We went all out. White stretch limo. Tux with a light pink jacket. I know it sounds bad but it was not as bad as it sounds. At least I did not have a Pirates of the Caribbean vintage, ruffled shirt!

While driving around in the limo, the pastor's kid asked if we wanted to get some "coolers". My date thought he was referring to Cactus Cooler, a relatively nasty soft drink. I thought he meant an Igloo cooler and wondered what we were going to put in it once we got it! Pretty much clueless.

I think I drank one 12 ounce wine cooler that night. It tasted better than I expected but it hit me like a bomb. I made a fool of myself that night.

What always shocked me was that I first learned to drink from a pastor's kid. Here I was supposed to be safe and away from the influence of the world. My parents were not concerned. After all, we were all Christians and in the same youth group. No problems ... right?

Matthew 13:24-30

24 Jesus told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.

27 "The owner's servants came to him and said, 'Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?'

28 " 'An enemy did this,' he replied.
"The servants asked him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up?'

29 " 'No,' he answered, 'because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.' "

No wonder the Scriptures say that friendship with the world is hostility toward God! No wonder the Scriptures replay the imagery that we are soldiers in a battlefield! No wonder the Scriptures say we are to armor up and to have our minds sharp and to be ready for action.

We live in a battlefield. Easy to forget. Easy to get lulled to sleep. Easy to think we are safe. Even at church!

Let's pay attention to a few things in this parable:
1. Weeds came from an "enemy" (v. 25, 28). Someone that did not like the owner snuck in and planted bad seeds. Pretty clear in the rear view mirror that this "enemy" could very well be the devil. The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis captures the subtlety of this enemy very well.
2. The presence of the weeds was not immediately obvious (v. 26). These grew under ground for some time and the farmer and owner did not know it. Apparently, weeds can co-exist for a time without anyone recognizing it. Eventually it will raise its head and be known.
3. Wheat and weeds grew together (v. 30). The wheat and weeds share the same resources of soil, sun and water. They live in the same place. They might even look similar for a period of time. But one is primarily a taker while the other is a giver. One uses resources without any benefit to the owner while the other provides the ingredients necessary to make bread and other things of benefit.
4. All will be righted in the end (v. 30). The owner will reveal the true position of each. The weeds will be bound and burned. The wheat will be placed into the owner's barn. Chuck Swindoll says there will be 3 surprises when we get to heaven: 1. Some we thought should be there won't be. 2. Some we thought won't be there will be. 3. Most importantly the biggest surprise is that I get to be there!

So, why this parable?

Well, it looks like a warning. It looks like an invitation to pay attention. Not everything is as it appears. Not all that call Him "Lord, Lord" will see the kingdom of heaven. Not all that make it through the doors of the church are really what we think they are.

We should expect that this is normal. The church is not a special place where our kids are safe just because they are in Sunday School! We need to be aware of what they are being taught and by whom. We need to pay attention to the content of their lives. We need to know what "Christian" friends they are spending time with.

Are you wheat or weeds? You are one or the other. Being wheat does not mean perfect ... we are talking about seeds, roots, stalk. It comes in stages. You have to be the right seed to be wheat. If you are truly saved you are wheat. You will continue to grow, in a mixed environment, until the end.

Examine yourself:
Might be good to picture yourself before God in judgment. Ask him to search you. Might be good to hear him ask questions and examine you and your choices. Might be good to do that now before you die.

Examine others:
This part is difficult for us in a tolerant culture. Expect that some in your church or even Sunday School class are weeds. Difficult to think through. You must be careful in doing this. Easy to become a conspiracy theorist. Don't want that. You just want to be wise and aware. Consider the outcome of their lives. Ask questions about what God is teaching them. Look for evidence of salvation. Let's continue to talk sports and kids but let's make sure we get to spiritual things too.

DevoLink: Devotions to help you Link with God.

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