Have you ever noticed that weeds don’t need any assistance to grow, even flourish, and take over any given space? Meanwhile, the plants we want require care and attention. As I prepare to go out and tackle the weeds today, I reflect on how many parables Jesus told relating to weeds, good soil, and harvest. Weeds need no special care, in fact, they thrive best when left alone! Cultivating a harvest, on the other hand, involves work!
Our Christian life is the same. Growth occurs with intention and diligence. Simply “going to church” is not enough to keep the weeds out. Neither is keeping busy with “good activities for the church.” In The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis explores the world and logic of demons. Screwtape tells his nephew, Wormwood, that he doesn’t need to focus on keeping his “patient” away from the church, but rather, he needs to keep him busy. When we fill our days with activity and noise – even good things – but neglect to spend time in prayer and Bible study, we are letting the weeds grow. When we fill our days with appointments, chores, and work without being still, the weeds spread.
When God gave the Israelites the Law, He said, “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deuteronomy 6:7). This indicates an ongoing conversation! When we get to the prophets, approximately 1000 years later, this practice seems to have been neglected, even forgotten. Israel let the weeds take over the garden. The few faithful workers couldn’t do enough to clear the weeds. A few plants remained healthy and strong, but the weeds had choked out most. In other words, the people of Israel refused to listen to the Word of God, preferring the noise of idolatry and sinful living. It’s much easier to say, “I don’t believe that way anymore” than it is to admit wrongdoing. This week, we finished Ezekiel, read all of Daniel, and started Hosea. Each of them was given a message. Each of them also were told their message would not be heard. They were given assurance of what was to come, for those who repented and those who refused. As we continue reading through the prophets, let us look through the lens of the Gardener and the parable of the sower. Which soil are you? How can you cultivate a better harvest?