I was looking in my backyard today and noticed all the weeds that have been popping up. I sighed at the thought of going out there and uprooting them. What a pain. Seeing all those weeds got me thinking about Jesus’ words where he taught us not to pull up the “weeds”, but to instead let them grow and leave it to him. [See Matthew 13]
How bizarre and backwards is that? Ignore the weeds growing among us? Don’t pull them, chop them, poison them, kill them … but simply let them grow next to the flowers, in the grass, in the garden, in our yard? Absurd! To a gardener, such a suggestion would be foolishness. I offer that it is foolishness to religious people as well. So why would Jesus say such a thing?
A few reasons came to my mind…perhaps you have others.
The first is that we, as humans, have a very poor track record of recognizing weeds. Our perspective seems to be that anyone who looks or believes differently than we do is a weed. Certain prophets and Jesus come to mind in the Jewish history. Certain reformers (among many others) come to mind in our Christian history. In hindsight we see that the “weeds” we got rid of were perhaps not weeds at all. Our historical tendency has been to label weeds, “wheat”, and wheat, “weeds” and we have acted accordingly, praising the wheat-weeds and getting rid of the weed-wheats. Jesus, aware our proven biases and natural tendencies as human beings, said he’d handle the weeds and gave us the job of loving and serving them. Ugh…don’t you hate that?
Another reason is that it is not our place to pull, poison, chop and kill weeds. Even if we were able to judge correctly as humans (which we aren’t, but let’s pretend) who was a weed and who wasn’t, it is not our job to uproot them — it is Gods. Much like when my son feels it is his role to correct and boss around his younger sister. We simply tell him that she is not his concern and to leave his sister to us, her parents. It is not his role as a sibling to be a parent! But oh how he likes to take the parent-role anyhow.
We’re the same, aren’t we? We feel as if weed-control is our role. Jesus simply tells us that it is not our concern and to leave it to him. It is not our role as created humans to be God. And oh how we like to try to be God (we’ll of course never admit this, but if we were honest, it’s true…at least it is in me). We like to play judge and determine who is and who isn’t a weed and treat them according to their human-given label (which never works out to well for the “weeds”).
The last reason is our lack of trust, or even not wanting to really trust, in God. Our desire to exercise weed-control on our fellow humans reveals our lack of trust in God (again, something we’d never admit). We really don’t want to let go of judgment and give it to God (not that we ever really had it in the first place). What if God declares someone a “flower” who we think is a “weed”? (Funny thing is that our State Flower, the Golden Poppy, is in fact a weed). What if God really loves weeds and tells us to trust him because he knows we’ll get it wrong and raise havoc on his creation? What if God gets it wrong — that is, according to our thinking (theology) — and God lets all sorts of “weeds” into his presence? Do you see the problems trust creates in us? Do you see the questions and fears trust-in-God raises? At least, that is, for some.
For me, I have found great freedom in trying to relax my ingrown human need to judge and take on the task of weed-control. It’s not up to me. My job is to love and to serve everyone — everyone! — even my enemies (whom I tend to declare to be weeds). It is such a relief to let go of a burden I have self-imposed on myself and give it back to God. I was never designed to carry it. And God knew that, hence Jesus’ words.
So now that I no longer have to worry about labeling and pulling weeds, I need to get busy learning from God how to love and serve them.