The parable of the tares and the wheat (Mt. 13:24-30) has long puzzled me. What would make it so essential that the two not be separated, until the angel of God winnows them at the end of the age, with his great pruning fork.
Why would it damage the wheat, to winnow ahead of that time. Yes, the parable says that the wheat might be disturbed, when the weeds were uprooted. But what did that mean, in practical terms. I knew that winnowing meant that, at the end of the age, all would be exposed.
Time’s up. It is now the harvest. And yes, that ending entailed punishment, for the weeds.
But why would it be better (in those practical terms by which I sought to ‘apply’ this teaching to my understanding, and my life) for the wheat, in the waiting.
I think I begin to understand why now. We are being formed here (and by Christ our Saviour) to a particular end.
A seed has been planted in each of us, and that seed is the seed to life.
If we do not bear fruit from that seed, it is evidence that the seed died. We do not truly belong to Christ, whatever reason (cares of the world, etc.) ends up filling in the blanks of the why or how.
What forms us here involves living the love of Christ.
And that love is extended (in a sense) to us blindly.
Not incautiously. I don’t mean that.
If we hear the Spirit of our God, and follow His lead (point by point by point, or, as I prefer, soul by soul by soul), He will tell us what we need, and what we need to do, each step of the way.
Yet some sense remains that the love that should be poured out from us (that is not made of the stuff of earth, but of God) is indeed like the rain God pours out indiscriminately upon all (Mt. 5:45).
We do not know whether another can be redeemed.
It might seem to us that a particular individual cannot, and will not.
But I do not think that probability is a safe place for any of us to venture. Far better to love like the blind pup, nosing about, not aware that his mother’s pap may not be near, and not just nourishment, but safety, has disappeared.
Something in our being tested, and being refined, and learning to live blindly the love that is of God requires judgment held until the angel's refining. It is a part of the testing, then, and the being refined, to have a work to do. And loving others, and participating in their call to freedom, is that work.
I don’t know that many of us can love that securely. It is as John said, perfect Love casts out fear (1 John 4:18).
Fear is the idea that something will happen, and that something might not be good for me.
But that other ‘something’—the one that is inherent in possibility—that blessed and most exquisitely balanced item (that is as light as the very sphere that trembles in rainbows in the sun, then pops and is gone) wherein God waits, and watches…
That item that is the freedom He crafted into the very humanity of all of us—something in that wonder might allow another who seems in permanent bondage to the enemy to be freed...
And something in that blessed and joy-filled reality works in tandem with 'process of being redeemed' to mean that judgment ahead of time can sufficiently mar the process that is our redemption—even as it certainly mars the calling to freedom of another.
And the process somehow requires the tares (weeds) remaining with us until the harvest.
Two points about that. The one, that the love of God is so huge that, all an individual has to do is cry out to Jesus, and he will be saved.
That is the most sublime teaching of the parable of the workers. Even at the last hour, when nothing done to participate in the process of being redeemed can be managed—why, that will not matter...
Free ride. In on His very coattails, and you can just imagine the laughter, the relief, the joy.
But to see that as anything other than ‘the love of God so huge’ is not good.
To presume upon that free ride would not be good. Locked into the earthbound practicality, I always remember that point. But I don't examine this just from the view of presumption, against His graciousness to all.
We can never know when death will come calling: it may be that time to cry out to Jesus can’t be found—in the twinkling of an eye, sometimes, Eternity calls us.
But God's free gift is more than merely such practicalities. Today is the day given for salvation.
From graciousness alone, relying on the free ride of God's exquisite love by waiting until the end gapes and roars before you is boorish, if I may, and worse. I don’t teach such waiting here—and would not want to be thought guilty of it.
Yet to examine that ‘love of God so huge’ requires its notice…
Another thought, however, in the midst of all of this. When the angel of our Lord comes, it will be the end.
To winnow is to begin the harvest. Jesus said the fields are ripe for harvest (John 4:35). Oh, how ominous that sounds now, when even those who are not of the faith eye the hour, and lower their gaze, veiling their thoughts.
Because yes, it is the mercy of God that the weeds are allowed to grow still with the wheat.
God does not want any to not be healed. To not be saved. To not begin the process of being completed.
Some there are out there now who teach a heresy—an easy-breezy connecting, yes, but can it be said to be Scripturally sound? If God does not want any to not be saved, why, yes, all shall be saved!
So they teach.
But have you ever wondered why we pray, “Thy Will be done?”
Ever considered how the very exercise of the universe—the very movement from one moment into the next is held by God, who has stopped all, and waits, and watches?
Or why the angels rejoice, when one sinner repents, and comes into the Kingdom?
Or why ‘Today’ is the day of salvation—or why people died for the faith—or why the fields being ripe for harvest matters—then, now, until the end?
If we are all going to be saved anyway—some distant time in the future, after the Resurrection…
Many there are who are losing the very foundations of their faith. Jesus said, “We must work now, while it is day. For the night is coming, when no man can work. (John 9:4, paraphrased.)”
I would put a lot greater weight on what He said, and why, than an easy-breezy understanding.
I don’t think I can close here without a reminding that, separate from His Spirit, we cannot do any of these things anyway, and whatever we do manage (in such circumstance) might better be regarded as ‘product,’ than life. But exploring the hows and whys inherent in what is meant by that—well, that must be the subject of another telling.