‘The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away …’ (Matt. 13:24-30)
The parable of the weeds can be seen to relate to a question often in the mind of a Christian: why does God allow so many apparent obstacles to Christian growth to exist around us? It describes wheat growing in a field, but due to the sabotage of an enemy of the field owner, there are also many weeds growing among the crops. The key point of the story seems to be that the owner decides to leave the weeds where they are. This would seem to be foolish, since weeds can damage crops and stunt their growth.
As well as having potential to damage, weeds can also strengthen crops, causing their roots to go deeper.
This can be what Christian life is like: living in a world hostile to our aim of pleasing God. These weeds could remind us of people who are often trying to persuade us to get involved in things we know to be not right, or those ridiculing us when we do choose what’s right.
So why does God let such obstacles surround us? The response of the field owner gives us our answer: “let both grow together until harvest”. God has set a time when he will remove wicked people from the world completely (see Matthew 13:37-43; ch. 25), but for now he wants us to co-exist with the trials that such people cause us. Trials are actually something that the Bible tells us we should be glad of: James says ‘consider it pure joy… whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance’ (Matt. 1:2-3).
As well as having potential to damage, weeds can also strengthen crops, causing their roots to go deeper. God’s intention is that these obstacles will strengthen our faith. But it’s down to us. Will we view it this way, and let our trials have this positive effect?
Ross Osbourne, The Church of God in Glasgow