The Avengers, Wheat, and Weeds
I love the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As a kid, I watched the cartoons on Saturdays and after school, I bought comic books, I even collected (and played with) action figures. Yup, I dig the whole thing. The movies are enjoyable and very entertaining. Do you know what else? They ask some really hard questions.
The penultimate film of the Avengers series, the climactic moment came when half of the beings in the universe instantly disappeared.
I typically think about movies in terms of conversations that can take place around their themes. The question that immediately popped into my head was, “If you could control who was removed from the universe, who would you protect and who would you get rid of?”
Could you imagine being able to rid your life of that person or those people? How great would that be, right?
Be honest, when that question went through your mind you had an answer and you had it fast. Sadly, I have to admit I know I did.
Jesus told a story one time and it went like this,
“The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in >his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds >among the wheat, and then went away. So when the plants came up and bore >grain, then the weeds appeared as well. And the slaves of the householder came >and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, >did these weeds come from?’ He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The slaves >said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he replied, ‘No; >for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let >both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the >reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but >gather the wheat into my barn.’ ”
A couple of quick context notes. This is coming in the midst of a section on parables in Matthew’s gospel, chapter 13 to be exact. The “weed” is actually something called a “darnel.” It is a specific type of wheat weed that it indistinguishable until the two plants produce fruit at harvest.
Later on in Matthew’s chapter Jesus explains some things about this parable,
“The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world, and >the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the >evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of >the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are collected and burned >up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his >angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, >and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping >and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom >of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!
This is all fascinating and mind blowing if we will let it sink in.
Think about what Jesus is saying here. First, Jesus will send out angels at the end of the age to separate wheat and weed. It’s not our job. How freeing is that? We are in the place of the servants of the master. That is, we tend to the whole field as though it is wheat. The ramifications of this are significant. Our job is to love and care for everyone. It is not our job to decide who is wheat and weed. At the end of the age, Jesus’ angels will handle that.
Second, what are the distinguishing marks of the two? Their fruit. How they have lived their lives shows where their faith was placed. This is one of the places where, as an American Christian, I would expect Jesus to say something like about faith and trust and repentance. He doesn’t. Jesus simply talks about the way these people lived. The fruit of their lives was the separating factor. To be clear, I’m not saying that Jesus was promoting a “works-based” religion. I think what he’s pointing to is that our outward actions point to inward realities.
You see, at the end of the day, we must change our view of the people around us. We must begin to see all the world as wheat. Loving and caring for everyone as our brother and sister.
We don’t make the decision between wheat and darnel. The simple fact of the matter is that we are not the “reapers.” That’s not our job. We are sowers and caregivers.
Thankfully, we are not asked to determine who to remove from the universe. What’s even better is that Jesus tells us, “That’s my call.”
How will you love today? In what ways do you need to change they way you see the world? Who are “those” people to you?