I have always loved the parable of the wheat and the tares. I’ve always been struck with the mercy of letting us ripen. Don’t judge a book by its cover. Don’t make a rash decision about someone or something, you may unwittingly think wheat is a weed and pluck it out. I have also marveled at how they look so much alike.
These days I have a new visual. If you would have seen me with a group of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints in January, we would have looked pretty much the same. Now there is clearly a ripening. We can look really different now. When you teach people since they are three years old to stand for truth and righteousness, there is a lot of standing.
The first decision point is if I call us Mormon rather than members or the Church of Jesus Christ. Second, is if I’m wearing a mask. Third, is if the mask says, “I can’t breathe” on it. At that point, you pretty much know where I stand.
“And thus there became a great inequality in all the land, insomuch that the church began to be broken up . . .” (3 Nephi 6:14).
Now I don’t think the wheat and the tares is a parable of American politics but rather, it is about religion. I’m sure the pharisees and scribes thought they were wheat! They were carefully, strenuously schooled and pious and devout! Yet Jesus told them in so many ways they were not ripening into wheat and it was that piety that kept them from getting it. And not only that, just like me now, they really couldn’t imagine switching sides. If you said (what if God said? Would I get it?) – you are a tare, would I change sides? It would be really hard to convince me.
So what to do? Amazingly, it is one of my least favorite and never really understood scriptures, the book of Philemon, that gives guidance here. Thankfully, theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, penned some helpful lines. He described the runaway slave Onesimus as becoming Philemon’s brother in Christ when he was baptized, upending the master/slave narrative. There is more to be said there, but the line that applied to my dilemma was, “. . . it does mean that in the Church no one has to be considered in his special capacity, (read here Trumper, never Trumper, masker, never masker, BLM or ALM) whether he be Jew or Greek, freeman or bondservant. Any such respect of persons must be excluded at all costs. We take account of each other only with regard to our membership in the Body of Christ, that is to say, that we are all one in Christ.” (Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship)
Back to the simple – I don’t need to figure out if I’m a wheat or a tare yet or who else is a wheat or a tare, I just need to bring a casserole when they have a baby. I love the gospel.
image: Photo by Monalisa Haas on Unsplash