Do you remember when life used to be so much simpler? When Apple and Blackberry were still just fruits. When we used to speak in real words not just acronyms. When it would make no sense to say, “Can you transfer the JPEG of the LCA from the DVD to the USB and SMS me?”
Back in those days the world was divided into just two types of people: Weet-Bix eaters and Coco Pops eaters.
Ah, those were the good ol’ days!
Take your Weet-bix; that was the good stuff, the healthy stuff. Weet-Bix was for sensible people, people who wanted to live right, people who were kinda ‘straight’. Weet-Bix was the natural heir of porridge: kept you cleansed and regular.
Then there was Coco Pops! The devil’s own cereal! Full of sugar and other nasty additives to lure unsuspecting children into a life of irresponsibility: “Tastes like a chocolate milkshake, only crunchy!”
Those were the good ol’ days. But, times have changed. Now you can’t just pick up a box of Weet-Bix and know it’s going to be good for you. For one thing Weet-Bix contains gluten! That’s enough to make the most sensible, health-conscious person shake in their boots! And, now we’re told, Coco Pops contain five essential 5 vitamins, they’re low in fat, a good source of iron and zinc, and contain no artificial colours or preservatives! Now, that sounds great!
What’s happened to the world? It’s all mixed up! Now, we can’t tell what’s bad and what’s good.
It’s enough to make anyone long for the good ol’ days, when there were really only two types of people: Lutherans, and everybody else; and heaven help if a Roman Catholic should darken these pews let alone a heathen! Those days you could tell the good people from the bad by how they lived, and word soon got around about who was doing what. And, you could make sure only genuine, card-carrying Lutherans became members of the church; they were the ones eating Weet-Bix!
But, now, that’s all changed, we’ve let our guard down. Weeds have been sown among the wheat. They let anybody in these days! And, they all look the same, they all live the same, how are we s’posed to tell the difference? Dressing up in your Sunday best used to be a sure sign, but, who does that anymore? Attending worship regularly used to be a sure sign, but, who does that anymore?
What a confused time we live in, a time when the things of the world encroach more and more on our faith life. Things that used to be avoided at all costs are now considered normal, and we’re being encouraged not to hide behind these four walls, but to be out in the world, mixing with the world. But, without those old, familiar expectations, obligations and systems in place that mixing can be a bit scary. How do we know who’s who? Who is wheat and who is weed? Because, we all know if you let weeds get a hold there’s no stopping them, they’ll take over! So, it’s tempting to want to identify the weeds and pull them out, to keep ourselves separate from the weeds. That’s assuming, of course, that we are the wheat!
What are we to do?
Well, perhaps we could start by listening to the head farmer. He says: “Wait! Don’t worry about the judging” That’s not our job. Our judgment is limited. We don’t have the full picture. We’d just mess it up, again! Leave the harvesting to him, only he knows the right time and the right method. We need to trust his judgment.
But, can he be trusted?
Well, he can be trusted enough to enter this mixed up world, to leave the security of his heavenly home. He can trusted enough to speak the truth about us, but to love us nonetheless. He can be trusted enough to take all our sin, all our guilt, all our shame, and go to the cross. He can be trusted enough to die for us – to die for all people. He was trustworthy enough that he was raised to life on the third day.
When all our other supports and ways of reckoning are stripped away all we have left is Jesus, and Jesus can be trusted. When we put our trust in him we don’t have to worry about looking at ourselves and wondering if we’re good enough, are we wheat, or are we weed? We don’t have to worry about measuring others for God’s kingdom by the way they act, or speak, or dress. We just have to worry about growing. And growing means learning to live with all sorts of people: Weet-Bix eaters, and Coco Pops eaters, maybe even some Froot Loops! But we leave the judging to God.
In this mixed up world, where the things we once thought were certain are not anymore the best thing we can do is trust. God does the judging so we can get on with the growing, and the living, and working out all those acronyms.
Grace and peace
Pastor John Strelan
Pentecost 7, 2017