Why are there bad people in my life? – Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
Pentecost 7 – July 23, 2017 – Vicar Hering
It is a dog eat dog world out there. What a terrifying description of the world you live in. But, the more you think about it, the more you realize it is not too far from the truth. There are a lot of bad people in the world. Turn on the world news and all that seems to be happening is evil people doing evil things whether it is terrorists killing innocent people, politicians using whatever means to get ahead, or powerful dictators living the good life while the people suffer from devastating poverty. Then the local news comes on and all you hear about is crime, murders, and robberies. But evil are not just in the world or in your town, they are in your life. Evil people try and lead you into temptation, choke out your faith, or are aggressive toward you. You look around you and all you can see are evil people in this world. It is frustrating. Why are there people in the world, even in my life, who are so evil? You wish they would just go away. You wish they would be destroyed. Then the world would no longer be such a terrible place. That frustration toward the evil people in this world spills over toward God. No one here would deny that God is the almighty God, the God who rules over all things. But if God is in control, then why does he allow evil people to run rampant? Why are there evil people in my world and my life? Jesus answers that question for us today with a parable. He tells us that God allows the evil to protect the good, but also that God will separate the evil from the good in the end.
Jesus cleverly used parables, which are earthly stories with a heavenly meaning, to give Christians a better perspective on life. In this case, he uses a parable to give us a third person point of view or a zoomed out perspective of God’s ruling over the world and your life. It would be like looking at a picture of a kid that is struggling in a pool. You can see the terror on his face as he is fighting for his life to stay above water. Your initial reaction to the picture might be, that poor child. He is drowning. Or you think, where are the parents or lifeguard who is supposed to be watching that child? But then you zoom out from the picture and you see the child’s Dad right there not even an arm’s reach away. Having gotten the full picture you realize that this is not a picture of a drowning child but a swimming lesson. It is easy to get frustrated and think, if God is ruling over the world, why are there evil people in it? But with this parable, Jesus zooms out and shows us that God really is ruling over all things and he does so for your good.
Jesus compares God’s rule and reign in your life to an owner of a field. The owner planted wheat in his field. At night his enemy came and planted weed seeds in with the wheat. When the plants sprouted, it became obvious that there was more than wheat in the field. Someone had soiled the crop with weeds. The servants came to owner and asked if he wanted them to go out and pull out all of the weeds. But the owner said no. He knew that if they pulled the weeds, they might pull up some of the wheat too and kill it. He cared for his wheat so much that he was willing to let the weeds come up with the wheat.
When Jesus told the disciples this parable, they were a bit confused. They came up to him later asking him what the meaning was since they were pretty sure Jesus wasn’t just giving them gardening tips. So he explained to them that he was the owner of the field, the devil was the enemy, the servants were his angel, the field was the world and the wheat were the good people in this world, the children of God, and the weeds were the evil people in this world. So now knowing who is who, we can go through the parable again and really get the point Jesus is trying to make. Jesus makes Christians in this world. But the devil, Jesus’ enemy, sowed evil people along with the good people. When it became evident that there was evil people with the good people, instead of destroying all of the evil people then and there, Jesus told his angels to leave both the evil people so that none of the good people where destroyed with the evil.
Do you get the point of the parable? It is easy to get frustrated at God for the evil people in the world or in your life who are threatening you. It is easy to think that God is not in control. But with this parable, you get a third person perspective of your life and you can see that God is still in control, he is still reigning in your life. He allows evil people among the good people to for the sake of his children. And think about how true that is. It does not matter if you have been a Christian your whole life or are a recent convert, if God had destroyed the evil people, you too might have been destroyed. First of all, every single one of you was born as a weed, a wicked person. You would have been destroyed if God had pulled up the weeds right away, but he didn’t to protect you his wheat. But also think of how you came to be a Christian. God worked through one of his children, his wheat, to convert you, whether that was your parents, a friend, or a coworker. And God used someone to convert them. And so on. If God had pulled up the weeds of evil people too soon, think of all of the wheat that would have been pulled up with the weeds, including you. But God in his grace and wisdom, allows the evil people, the weeds, to live among his people to make sure that his good people, his wheat where not pulled up with the evil people. Not just those who are wheat now, but also those who will be wheat in the future.
From this parable, we get that third person perspective of God’s ruling in our lives. If we are so focused and zoomed in on our own lives we can miss the big picture. Yes there are evil people in the world, but instead of getting frustrated at God and questioning his rule and control in your life, you can see that God allows those evil people to keep you from being uprooted with the wicked. Now with this new perspective, you no longer have to be frustrated by the evil people in this world, but rather thankful to God that he was willing to let the evil people remain on this earth to make sure that you and the other Christians in this world don’t get uprooted too. This new perspective also gives you peace of mind knowing that God is still ruling in your life. He is watching out for you and protecting you. He always has your best interests in mind.
The parable doesn’t end there. God is caring for you, his wheat, by having you struggle with the evil people in this world, but it is only temporary. Jesus continues his parable by saying that at harvest time when the wheat was fully grown, the owner sent out his works to harvest the wheat. The workers pulled up both the weeds and wheat together and then separated them. The wheat was gathered into the barn, and the weeds were gathered and thrown into the fire to be burned. The parallel is easy to see. On the last day, Jesus will send out his angels to gather the good people and the evil people and separate them. The bad people will be thrown into hell where Jesus says there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. The good people will be taken into heaven and will shine like the sun.
Look at what Jesus is showing you with this parable. He is not only giving you a zoomed out picture of God’s rule over the world and your life today, he is also showing you a picture of your eternal future. You are going to be gathered on the last day and will be taken into heaven where you will shine like the sun. There will be no more evil people around. There will be no more struggles, no more suffering, and no more pain. You will get to enjoy the paradise of heaven with your heavenly father forever. And the evil people in this world, you don’t have worry about them. God will throw them into hell where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Isn’t that amazing! Yes there are going to be evil people in this world but that is only temporary. Some day you will be in a place where there is no evil and you will be there forever. The comparison between your time on earth with evil people around you and your time in heaven with Jesus is like a dot on a line. If I stretch a string all the way across the church, one little dot on the line would be your time on earth and the rest is heaven. Let this strengthen you to look to your Father, your almighty God who rules over this world, for protection and endurance in this world full of evil people. He is watching out for you to make sure you will be in heaven. And what a wonderful place it will be.
Jesus describes what heaven will be like by saying you will shine like the sun. You can’t even look at the sun because it is so bright and glorious. That is what you are going to be like. You will be gathered in by the angels and stored up in heaven forever and you will be perfect and glorious surrounded by other Christians who will also be perfect and glorious. And you will get to dwell in the presents of your almighty God forever. You finally be with the one who made you his own by sending his one and only Son to die for you one the cross. You will be with the one who raised Jesus from the dead letting you know that all of your sins have been forgiven. You will be with the one who cared for you so much and wanted to make sure that you would be in heaven with him, he allowed evil people to dwell in his perfect world for a time.
I love how Jesus ends his parable. He said, “Whoever has ears, let them hear.” And from what I can see, everyone here has ears so listen to what Jesus tells you. God is in control. He rules over this world and over your life at all times. He allows evil people in his world to make sure you are not rooted up with them. And in the end, he will gather you to himself, get rid of all evil, and you will enjoy eternal life in heaven as his golden wheat that shines like the sun. Amen.