Think about this: At the very moment that you are laughing, someone else might be crying.
At the very moment that you are giving money away, someone else is robbing a person.
At the very moment that you are laughing, someone else might be crying.
At the very moment that you are chowing down on a burger, a person across the world is starving to death.
It works in reverse too. At the very moment that someone is bullying someone, you might be speaking a kind word to someone.
At the very moment someone is punching someone else, you might be helping someone off the ground.
Our world is complicated: It is filled with both good and evil at the same time. This works at every level of humanity. The world is both good and bad. Nations are both good and bad. Cities are both good and bad. Churches are both good and bad. I am both good and bad. You are both good and bad. Why?
Jesus, in , is going to tell us a story, a parable, about this idea. When Jesus shows up in Matthew, he begins to announce the Kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is an idea from the Old Testament, when God was going to come and fix everything, and everyone, even the super bad other nations would follow God. So, when Jesus says, yo the Kingdom is here already broskis, the disciples think, okay, everyone should follow Jesus! Everything should be fixed forever! No more sin! No more evil!
But that’s not what happens. The world is still complicated. There is still evil and hurt and pain. So what’s going on?
Here is another story Jesus told: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. But that night as the workers slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat, then slipped away. When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew. “The farmer’s workers went to him and said, ‘Sir, the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds! Where did they come from?’ “ ‘An enemy has done this!’ the farmer exclaimed. “ ‘Should we pull out the weeds?’ they asked. “ ‘No,’ he replied, ‘you’ll uproot the wheat if you do.
“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a fishing net that was thrown into the water and caught fish of every kind. When the net was full, they dragged it up onto the shore, sat down, and sorted the good fish into crates, but threw the bad ones away.
Then, leaving the crowds outside, Jesus went into the house. His disciples said, “Please explain to us the story of the weeds in the field.” Jesus replied, “The Son of Man is the farmer who plants the good seed. The field is the world, and the good seed represents the people of the Kingdom. The weeds are the people who belong to the evil one. The enemy who planted the weeds among the wheat is the devil. The harvest is the end of the world, and the harvesters are the angels. “Just as the weeds are sorted out and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the world. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will remove from his Kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. And the angels will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in their Father’s Kingdom. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!
That is the way it will be at the end of the world. The angels will come and separate the wicked people from the righteous, throwing the wicked into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a fishing net that was thrown into the water and caught fish of every kind. When the net was full, they dragged it up onto the shore, sat down, and sorted the good fish into crates, but threw the bad ones away. That is the way it will be at the end of the world. The angels will come and separate the wicked people from the righteous, throwing the wicked into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Two kinds of people
Two kinds of people
Jesus sticks with the idea of a farmer and his seeds. He throws out the seeds so that people will come to Jesus. He sows good seed and people follow him, they join the kingdom and they grow in Jesus and learn to do the right thing in God. But then there are other people. They are the weeds, they don’t follow God, they promote evil.
The world is mixed with people who are trying to live according the Word of God, and people who aren’t. That means that, before Jesus comes back, there is always going to be good and evil happening around us.
And why is this the case? It says here that “an enemy” comes in and sows the weeds. Who is the enemy? Usually, in the New Testament, the enemy refers to the devil. Now, here’s a few things that this does not mean: It does not mean that the devil and Jesus are equal and they both have equal influence in the world, like they’re both out there throwing seeds and whoever can do it faster will win.
It also doesn’t mean that the people who don’t follow Jesus aren’t responsible for their own actions.
Sometimes people say things like, “Well, the devil made me do it,” or “I couldn’t help it.” The Bible has no category for people “who can’t help it.” We each must choose to follow the ways of God or the ways of the devil and sin in our lives.
Here’s what I think this does mean: Satan is a real being, but he’s also viewed as the representation of sin and temptation in our lives. So, when it says that the enemy sowed weeds, what it’s really saying is that the devil tossed sin into the world, and we have ran all over each other trying to get it. The only hope we have now is the good seed of Jesus Christ.
So, some will grow in Jesus’ good seed, while others will grow in the sin of the enemy.
Evil won’t last forever
Evil won’t last forever
So, while the world right now looks complicated, it won’t always be that way. It’s clear in both of these parables, but especially the one about the fish, that things will not always be this way. A lot of eastern religions believe that good and evil are eternal parts of the universe, forever locked in a struggle. This is the idea in Star Wars. The force has a light side and a dark side, creating balance in the universe between good and evil, hope and despair. If you think about it, it’s kind of a bummer, because the good guys will never win. Luke, Rey, they might stop evil for a time, but it will always come back.
As Christians, we can agree with that idea in the present, complicated world, but we hope for something better. One day, evil will be defeated. One day, sin will be gone forever. One day, God will “remove everything that causes sin and all who do evil.” Then, the righteous will shine like the sun. You will be the way God meant you to be, a shining, beautiful human.
Fill the world with God’s goodness
Fill the world with God’s goodness
Pay attention tomorrow at school: You’ll see acts of total kindness and unselfishness, and you’ll see just total trash selfishness. You’ll see someone give up their lunch, their spot in line. You’ll see someone speak kindly to a friend or a stranger who needs it. You’ll also see someone make fun of another person for no reason. You’ll see people push others out of the way to get what they want. What do we do in the face of this complicated world?
Trust God. God has a plan for the world. He has a perspective you don’t have.
Let God judge. God’s got it covered.
Recognize the good and the bad in your own heart. Being complicated starts in our own hearts - Rom. “I do what I don’t what, etc.” How am I evil? How can I stop?
Push the kingdom to edges of the earth. . It’s our job to get the message out, to make the world look as much like heaven as we can, to be on the frontier of goodness.
Here’s what we learn throughout Scripture: We all have been weeds at one point or another. We all have been rotten fish. That’s the consequence of sin. We were dead. Like for real dead. Less than human. But the beautiful good news of the gospel is that we can be made new. We can become wheat, we can become good fish, we can be made alive. It only happens one way: through the death and resurrection of Jesus.
In , Jesus uses another wheat example. He says:
I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives.
The world was only weeds, but Jesus came and planted himself in it, the one good wheat among the weeds, and in his death and resurrection, he planted millions of new kernels in the world: Christians who follow his example, who die to themselves in order to fill the world with the goodness of Jesus’ kingdom.