Who here has had his or her patience tested in the past week? Show of hands!
Now grade yourself on how patient you were when your patience was tested. If you think you should get an “A” raise your hand.
If you think you should get a “B” raise your hand.
If you think you should get a “C” raise your hand.
I won’t ask for anymore hand raising beyond a “C”.
God’s ways are not our ways is not a new notion to anyone here.
Our gospel account is predicated on this.
The parable of the weeds and the wheat, unique to Matthew’s account of the good news, is a case in point.
Matthew’s community is keenly aware that the various people (or seeds) planted in the reign of God as it exists in the here and now represent the full arc of human virtue and vice.
Sinners live in the reign of God we call “the church”;
and not just those committing the minor or venial sins that all present know all too well.
Drug users and drug dealers inhabit the reign of God;
human traffickers inhabit the reign of God;
crooked politicians inhabit the reign of God;
murderers inhabit the reign of God;
members of the 1% inhabit the reign of God!
Matthew’s community wondered about this phenomenon and weighed the options for how to respond.
Who gets thrown off the island?
At least one interpretation of this parable is, “Be patient, and let God decide in the end time.”
That often is not very satisfying to our ears.
Our translation of the gospel account needs modification to help us find our own way through this disturbing reality.
Most weeds are quite distinctive from wheat.
The weed referred to in the original language was most likely darnel which resembles wheat (and in some parts of the world is referred to as “false wheat), thus the problem identifying what is truly a weed and what is truly wheat.
I want to also point out that this may also be proof that God does not approve of monoculture farming.
But I should get back to the point of identifying evil works and evil people in our midst.
Is it not the experience of absolutely everyone present that we have often gotten it wrong when we thought we knew good and virtuous behavior when we saw it?
only to be hoodwinked later?
And the flip side has also been proven,
that we judge way too soon the behavior and especially the motivations of others
only to be totally surprised and humbled later.
Perhaps that might help us to be a little more patient with God’s point of view.
Paul’s letter to the Romans strongly emphasizes our reason for hope, and he connects our own salvation to the salvation of all creation.
Some ecologists suggest that we human beings are the consciousness of the universe, the natural world reflecting upon itself.
When creation suffers at our hands, we all suffer.
When we surrender to the Spirit of Jesus we bring the rest of creation with us into the freedom of the children of God.
The pivotal terms for Paul are spirit of slavery and spirit of adoption.
The spirit of slavery will lead us back into fear.
Fear sets us up in isolation from other humans and from God and from the rest of creation.
Fear drives the need to conquer the earth and to destroy anything and anybody who stands in the way of that drive.
The spirit of adoption will lead us to inherit all that God is and does.
Our inheritance then includes caring for the rest of creation as God cares for it.
We are God’s means to nurture the earth and all that lives on it and in it.
Conquering and nurturing are mutually exclusive actions.
Those are our choices.
Paul concludes, “We know that the whole creation …
So we come back again to patience.
Do we condone evil?
Do we meet those bent on conquering creation passively?
Paul suggests that the spirit of adoption leads us to cry, “Abba”!
This suggests a passionate response to evil in our midst.
It suggests we “bear witness”.
It suggests we confront, without fear, the spirit of slavery whenever and wherever we see it.
It suggests we never tire of seeking justice for those who groan inwardly, who are also waiting for adoption and redemption.
It suggests that as we were introduced into an affectionate and compassionate relationship with the God of Jesus, that we also enter into an authentically affectionate and compassionate relationship with our fellow humans and with the creation that surrounds us and supports us.
That relationship will define and dictate our ethical response.
That relationship will also confirm for us the need for patience and to take on God’s point of view.