Western-influenced evangelical Christianity tends to embrace a form of the faith that promises neat answers to life’s toughest questions. Everything must have a happy ending. All problems must be ultimately solved. There is little room in such Christianity for things that don’t go as expected. After all, the New Testament promises that all things will work together for good. We want to see the good.
Consider Christian entertainment. Christian movies are most popular when the story has a happy ending and there are no loose ends. Faith films that leave questions unanswered do not do as well at the box office. But is this a biblical expectation?
In the parable of the weeds, Jesus addressed a reality of kingdom life that looked wildly different to this contemporary view of Christianity. In the parable, the sower sowed good seed in his field. In a perfect world, the seed would have produced only good wheat. Instead, weeds grew among the grain. The sower’s servants grew frustrated. They knew that he had sown good seed and they could not understand how good seed would produce weeds. They wanted to immediately remove the weeds but the sower told them to wait. They needed to tolerate the dissonance. Harvest day would come and then the weeds would be separated from the wheat.
Jesus’ disciples struggled to understand the parable. Later, he explained it. The kingdom had to do with gospel fruit. In the visible kingdom on earth, believers and unbelievers would grow alongside one another. The temptation would be for believers to prematurely uproot anything that looked to them like a weed. Jesus warned against doing that. In their zeal, the servants might well uproot wheat with the weeds.
While the parable has immediately to do with the realities of gospel growth in the kingdom, the principle might well be applied to other areas of life.
When life cannot be easily packaged and tied up in a neat bow, we can be tempted to artificially produce the resolution for which we long. We find it difficult to tolerate dissonance. We find it difficult when our expectations of the Christian life are not met. We wonder why God doesn’t immediately step in and resolve all the complexities of life.
If God expects me to provide for my family, why doesn’t he immediately give me a job that pays sufficiently to meet all my needs? If he expects me to respect my parents, why doesn’t he give make my parents understand me better? If he expects me to obey my leaders, why does he not give me leaders that understand and lead in a way that is easy for me to submit? Why doesn’t he immediately make sense of all my senselessness? If you’ve wondered that, consider a few truths.
First, God knows your pain far more intimately than you realise. Isaiah told Israel that God could no sooner forget his people than a nursing mother could forget her child (Isaiah 49:15–16). In his humanity, Jesus wrestled with the dissonance between God’s love for him and the mission he had come to accomplish. From the cross, he asked why God had forsaken him (Matthew 27:46).
Second, as a child of God, be assured that he loves you. In fact, he invites you to cast your cares on him precisely because he cares for you (1 Peter 5:7). Senselessness in no way negates God’s love for his people.
Third, God strengthens and helps his people for the difficulties they must face. Even when life does not make sense, he has not abandoned you. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).
Finally, dissonance will not have the final word. At the final day of judgement, God will see to it that the weeds are separated from the wheat and the weeds cast into the consuming fire. Likewise, in eternity, no more senselessness will plague us. We will forever worship God in perfect harmony of mind and heart.
As you reflect on the parable of the weeds today, pray that God will give you the patience to tolerate the dissonances that you face in this life with hope that ultimate resolution is promised.