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. Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.’” (NLT)
Within the Christian church there has always been a tendency to want to sort out who is “in” and who is “out”. To an extent this is not only legitimate but essential. Anyone who leads in the church has to make assessments of members of the church. And none of us can avoid making such assessments in our normal relationships with others.
Problems arise when these assessments take the form of decisive judgements. We can write people off, or pigeon hole them and thus fail to understand them or even relate to them. And the further problem is that we rarely have all the information at hand which allows us to come to firm conclusions.
Just because someone expresses their faith differently, or emphasises different aspects of their faith, does not mean they lack faith. To assume our faith and the form it takes as the only yardstick by which to measure the faith of others is to confuse ‘firm faith’ with sheer arrogance.
Jesus, who was no soft touch, says we need to be careful to sort out the weeds from the wheat. There certainly are weeds, and there may even be times we need to take action to guard against them. But final verdicts have to wait till the only one with the right to deliver the verdict does so. We are sometimes too hard or too soft. Jesus always gets it just right.