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Wheat and Tares
February 17, 2019, 12:00 AM

Grace and peace to you from the Triune God, may the words on my lips and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable to God this morning.

It can be really tempting to judge the people around us. We as humans like to be part of the “In Crowd” and that requires ad “Out Crowd.” We need criteria to determine who is in and who is out. We use these criteria judge the people around us. This is evidenced in statements like, “How can they be a Christian, acting like that.” Wheat and Tares look an awful lot alike in the beginning and it is only when they come to maturity that you can tell them apart.

Some of you have heard the story of the young man who prayed me back into the church. For the benefit of those who have not, Back in the early 1990's, when I was in college and during the period when I had rejected Jesus and the Church, Jeff Schmidt, who was a faithful and church going young man and class mate in college, heard God telling him to pray for me. Now I was off at college doing the things that college students do and generally enjoying life. I was not doing anything illegal but certainly hedonism was the arbiter of my conduct. Jeff in hearing God, therefore said to God, surely there was someone more deserving than I, but at God's insistence, Jeff prayed for me and ultimately was the one who would lead me back in the church.

Now, over twenty years later, we know that God saw in my heart the faith that would allow me to accept the call to go to seminary and ultimately the call to become a pastor. There is no way that Jeff could have seen this in the nineteen or twenty year old young man that he knew in college. And so the human interpretation of who will be in and who will be out, is missing the crucial view of what is happening on the inside of the person. Only with that knowledge of the internal thinking then and the internal potentiality would it be possible to properly judge who might be in and who might be out.

The workers in the field wanted to do the right thing and to help their master out. The workers in the field suggested that since the Master had not planted the Tares that they might purify the field on the Master's behalf. The Master knew that it was hard to tell the two apart and that the intertwining of the roots of the plants meant that you would loose some of the wheat and that was unacceptable. If we think of the parable of the lost sheep, where Jesus tells us that he will go after one sheep that none may be lost, it makes a lot of sense that God would be concerned with uprooting the sinners when the same act might would uproot a saint. Whether we would up root the saint because we would judge with our own preconceptions and thus mistake wheat for tare or because in up rooting the sinner we disturb the soil that the saint is growing, in thus causing the wheat to wither and die, is not important.

There is a line as well in the explanation of the parable that I think also speaks to why we need to be careful about determining who is in and who is out. We read, “The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers” Now I will admit that I have often read this as the angels will collect all the sinners and evildoers, but that is not actually what it says. The truth is that what it says is much more consistent with the theology around simul justus et pecator, a basic part of Lutheran theology, meaning simultaneously saint and sinner. This is the reminder that my faith has been accounted to me for righteousness or I am counted as in right relationship with God because of my faith, which does not say, I did all the right things and now God loves me. None of us are only on the saintly side of the equation. We are all both saint and sinner.

If you are both saint and sinner and the person sitting in front of, or behind, or to the left and right of you are both saint and sinner then, which one should be plucked up. This actually argues that for us not only is their wheat and tares in the same field but both are often within the same person. And God wants to watch us grow and mature and then at the end the part of us that is tares, will be removed, so that we can be only wheat. That is, I believe, the root of, removing the CAUSES of sin. The removal of the causes of sin is the purification of those who are part of the body and will remain part of the body. Those who are not and never have been part of the body those who count only as evil doers they will be removed from the body along with the parts us of who still count as sinner in the simultaneously Saint and Sinner.

We need to be careful when judging other people. We need to be careful when determining who is part of the “In Crowd” and who is part of the “Out Crowd”, because we don't have enough information to determine which should be which. I am reminded of my daughters description of someone she had recently met, who was Hard and Crusty on the outside but with a soft center. To meet this person there was not much likable about them and they seemed a bit maybe cruel and indifferent, but as you got to know them, you found out that there was this really kind, likable person inside. She also stated the if you know the things that this person has gone through in life then it makes sense why there is this hard, mostly impermeable barrier on the outside. It is the defense mechanism for dealing with the, at moments, cruel world. Think of the biker who gives away Teddy Bears for children at Christmas. If you get a glimpse inside, it is often different from the outside.

Finally I want to talk about the other reason for not putting one person out. Remember that I said it was nearly impossible to tell the wheat from the tare when they are young. They look largely the same the difference is in their color when they mature. I have also seen this repeatedly in life, where a young person who is challenged and in trouble eventually grows up and becomes respectable. I even said to my mother one day that it is amazing but all of my friends from childhood have grown up and become respectable. And so we judge people by who they are right now. We may want to remove the tares from the wheat at moments to purify the body and we may well find that if we will leave well enough alone, as that person matures, they change into the possibility that God sees, not the current reality we see.

Workers of the field, go out fertilizing all that you see, letting it all mature and leaving to the angels the sorting of the wheat from the tares. AMEN.