Keep the Good, and Destroy the Bad

Matthew 13: 24-30, 30-37

     It’s time for all the wheat and tares of the pre- and post-Jesus tradition to be sorted through by current day messengers/angels  of God. The wheat should be stored in a place where people can pull it out and use it to nourish their minds. The tares should be cast into the fire so they can never be used to hurt people again.

     As I read the description and suggested focus of my denomination’s liturgical guide for Sundays, I saw that we, like many faithful Christian traditions, continue to perpetuate a  16th century (albeit C.E.) understanding of this parable.

     I devoted chapter five in my newest book, In Living Color: Heaven, to explaining this parable.

 Wisconsin field    In a nutshell, when Jesus told parables about the kingdom of heaven (or the kingdom of God), he was NOT explaining who will be going to paradise when they die and who will burn forever.

     Does going to a barn to be stored so someone can pull you out and feed you to the livestock or to the family sound like an image of paradise? Have you invited anyone to a feast in your barn?

The only time Jesus talked about life-after-death was on the cross. He called that special place “paradise.”

     This parable, and many others, makes a lot more sense when you understand the “kingdom of the heavens” (which is always plural in the Greek) as the way God intended and wants us to be living and progressing in our lives today.

     I give a full explanation of my conclusions in the book to show that the kingdom of the heavens is the development or maturing of unity and harmony among and within every component of the creation.

     So how is the development of unity like wheat and weeds growing together?

     The wheat represents teachings  and commands that promote peace, unity, and harmony among people. The weeds represent teachings and commands that get in the way of unity. Some teachings (similar to tares) are poisonous, highly destructive of unity, harmony, and peace.

     The Old Testament is a collection of wheat and weeds. There are many wise and fruitful teachings that help people live in harmony. But there are some really bad teachings and commands that have been used to harm and destroy people’s lives. They have long caused division and hatred. You can probably list a few right off the top of your head.

     Why did Jesus say, “Let them keep growing together”? Sometimes it’s not easy to tell which teachings and commands are good and which are bad when they are first put into play. You have to wait and see if they produce peace, love, harmony, joy, and unity. The fruit of a law or a teaching will tell you what you keep and what you throw into the fire. Fire is needed to permanently destroy them so they can never be pulled out and used to stop the development of unity among us again.

     Martin Luther explained his position very clearly that bad laws and commands needed to be eliminated. He said, “Love is to be the filter for the law.” If a law serves love, keep it. If it does not serve love, throw it out – no matter if an angel from heaven had delivered it in person. You can see some of his quotes about letting love be the law here.

     But we should not stop with the Old Testament. There are some commands people are using in the New Testament to hurt and tear down people as well. It has some guidelines based in culture and tradition that do not serve to unite people as one. Yet people keep pulling them out and bearing poisonous actions with them.

     The point is that we need to judge a law, a plant, a tree, a teaching – by its fruit. Does it serve love? Does it bring peace or joy? Does it build unity and harmony?

     The church should regularly sort through its rituals, teachings, and laws to make sure they are all serving love, promoting respect, and unity among the creation.

     It’s long past time to get rid of laws and commands that harm people and allow unity to be disrupted. We should store the ones that have proven to bring peace, love, joy, and unity in easily found places where they can be shared with those who are deficient in these areas.

Share
This entry was posted in Meditations on Specific Texts and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Keep the Good, and Destroy the Bad

  1. John J Flanagan says:

    Are we to judge sound Biblical admonitions by the test of whether it advances “unity” or by how much love and peace results? If the Bible declares that certain actions are sinful, are we to avoid these verses, never speak of them, ignore them….simply to keep the peace, compromise for the sake of expediency? I believe we can be caring and kind, and pastoral in our statements, knowing we ourselves are sinners, but we need not spare telling the truth, acknowledging what the word of God says…..even if we, like the prophets of Israel, become despised. Jesus spoke kindly to people, but He did not spare His words. He told the truth, about sin, about repentance, about striving for humble righteousness in our lives. The problem today is that many pastors want to be liked by their congregation and by others, so they delude themselves into believing that being kind, a unifier, politically correct in all manner of speech, and avoiding the parts of God’s word found too offensive…..they can then make religion compatible with society’s values, and the Gospel….as such….can be filtered for social acceptability in a fallen world.

    • admin says:

      John, great questions and concerns. Love takes all circumstances into consideration so it’s hard to speak in generalities. There are some easy examples like the “Bible’s” declaration that adulterers, Sabbath breakers, and blasphemers should be put to death. I believe blasphemy was the specific sin that got Jesus convicted and put to death. But I’ll let Martin Luther explain himself in his two sermons in the Church Postils that deal with this point – Luke 14:1-11 and Matthew 22:34-46.

  2. Pingback: A Transliteration of the Parable – Weeds Growing with Wheat | Praying the Gospels

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>