Read Matthew 13:24-30
24 Here is another story Jesus told: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. 25 But that night as the workers slept,his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat,then slipped away. 26 When the crop began to grow and produce grain,the weeds also grew.
27 “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?’
28 “‘An enemy has done this!’ the farmer exclaimed.
“‘Should we pull out the weeds?’ they asked.
29 “‘No,’ he replied,’you’ll uproot the wheat if you do. 30 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)
Those within the family of faith often speculate on whether certain people are or are not Christians. Fair enough that in some circumstances we need to come to some conclusions: such as appointing leaders of church ministries. But we can never form final verdicts on others’ spiritual state. We can form some tentative opinions but it isn’t always easy to figure out who is a Christian and who is not. God ultimately knows and will deliver his verdict when Jesus returns to put all things right.
This parable warns against making snap judgements. It is a reminder to us that even God’s visible church comprises people who may or may not have faith in Jesus. If we try to ‘purify’ the church ourselves we may end up forming the wrong conclusions. The wheat may be treated as weeds,or vice versa.
It applies also to the wider world. We simply cannot conclude that because a person is in church and knows their Bible that they know God personally. We simply cannot conclude that because a person is not in church and is not that respectable in behaviour that they cannot know God personally. We may come to some tentative opinions,but the truth will only come out when God decides.
Till then we live with wheat and weeds. Till then,we may not always know the difference. Till then,we draw no final conclusions.