马太福音 13:24-30 耶稣又设个比喻对他们说：“天国好像人撒好种在田里， 及至人睡觉的时候，有仇敌来，将稗子撒在麦子里就走了。 到长苗吐穗的时候，稗子也显出来。 田主的仆人来告诉他说：‘主啊，你不是撒好种在田里吗？从哪里来的稗子呢？’ 主人说：‘这是仇敌做的。’仆人说：‘你要我们去薅出来吗？’ 主人说：‘不必，恐怕薅稗子，连麦子也拔出来。 容这两样一齐长，等着收割。当收割的时候，我要对收割的人说，先将稗子薅出来，捆成捆，留着烧；惟有麦子要收在仓里。’”
Matthew 13:24-30: 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 uproot 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.’”
Remember that a parable about the kingdom of heaven is really a parable about God’s Church. Jesus’ parable teaches us an important truth. There is the Church and then there is the church. The Holy Christian Church is invisible, because it consists of all three believers. What we see on earth is the church with a small “c.” It consists of both believers and unbelievers, hypocrites who want to belong to a church but who really don’t believe. It has always been this way. In the Old Testament, the true believers were called the “remnant” of Israel.
Shouldn’t we try to remove the hypocrites from our pews? The answer is, “No.” Because you don’t know who they are. You can’t look into their hearts. Only God can. If you try to remove the hypocrites, you will remove believers, too, and that would harm God’s kingdom. Besides, just maybe that hypocrite sitting in the pew with you might really listen one Sunday and come to faith in Jesus. Jesus says that we should let God sort that out on Judgment Day.
Does that mean that we would never excommunicate or remove a person from our church, as Jesus teaches us in Matthew 18:15-20? Remember that what Jesus teaches us in Matthew 18 is not a way to remove people from the church, but an attempt to get them back in! When a person no longer believes and makes that known by their confession or by their impenitence, it would be wrong to pretend that isn’t the case by keeping them as a member of our church. All this calls for wisdom and patience, and that is what Jesus is teaching us in this parable.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, first give me a love for souls that counts every soul a treasure, someone who has been redeemed by your holy precious blood. Second, give me a heart that is courageous and reaches out to encourage the weak brother or sister in their faith. Last, give me both patience and wisdom so that I always act in accordance with your will. Amen.