Normal Orthodoxy Leads to GrowthFr. Barnabas Powell
I’m not a gardener. I’m just not good at it. But the reason I’m not good at it is that I don’t take the time to get good at it. Like any discipline, it takes perseverance to build proficiency. And, another problem I have is that I really don’t know the difference between a weed and a good plant. To be sure, I can tell when my lawn or my flowerbeds need weeding, but I really hate doing it.
Our Faith is meant to teach us how to spot the “spiritual weeds” in our lives. We are meant to be attentive to these unhealthy thoughts, behaviors, and thinking that really do lead to unhealthy lives IF we don’t deal with them. That’s why our Normal Orthodox Faith calls us to regularly practice spiritual disciplines like daily prayer, fasting, generosity, selflessness, humility, patience, and love. These healthy ways of living make us like Christ. The “weeds” of selfishness, undisciplined desires, and untamed passions, all lead to life unlike what we were created to have in Christ.
You were meant to be free in Christ, not a slave to the “weeds” that choke out true life!
Look at our lesson today in Matthew 13:24-30:
The Lord said this parable. “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the householder came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seeds in your field? How then has it weeds?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he said, ‘No; lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”
When Jesus compares the Kingdom of God to anything in the Gospels, it’s important for us to understand that He is speaking very clearly and plainly to the people listening to Him. And these people were used to growing their food, so this parable really hit home to them. It may be a stretch for we moderns so removed from the agricultural way of our past to really grasp what the parable is saying.
So, let’s try this.
First, The Kingdom of God, the Rule of God, the place where God lives and is acknowledged as Lord; that kingdom can be understood as being like a Man Who planted good plants in His field. It is a powerful insight to see the Kingdom compared to the very earthy work of planting, tending, and harvesting. This clearly reveals that living a faithful life as a Christian in God’s Family isn’t magic or some kind of mere school where you gather information. No, this Kingdom is like the labor, the work of planting and tending and harvesting. And this Sower has planted Good Seed. By the way, that’s you and me!
But an enemy has snuck in, under the cover of darkness, and planted weeds along with the Good Seed. Of course, it’s easy to identify the devil here, but that would be too small. Press this further and this “enemy” planting “weeds” in the Farmer’s Garden is also everything that takes the sunshine, the nutrients of the soil, and the work of the Farmer and gives nothing back in return. The “weeds” only take the blessings of the Garden. They never produce anything nourishing.
Finally, while the weeds and the wheat will grow together in this Garden, there will come a Harvesting Day when the wheat will go one way and the weeds will go another! So, you shouldn’t be surprised when you see “weeds” in the Lord’s Church, His Garden. And you should first look to the “weeds” growing in your own heart and tend to them before Harvest Day through repentance and devotion!
Today, where are the unproductive weeds in your heart and life? Can you tell the difference between the weeds and the wheat, what is productive and nourishing and what is only taking your life in a wasted way? By allowing the Lord of the Harvest to tend to your life through the wisdom of the Kingdom of God, the Church, you will find the soil of your life producing the fruit of your focused attention on being Orthodox on Purpose!
P.S. O Lord of Spirits, and Giver of Life, grant me the humility to embrace the Way of Faith that leads me to a disciplined life. Grant me the eyes of wisdom that can discern between weeds and wisdom. Give me the humility to trust You and Your Church. Give me the courage to live a life of repentance and not arrogant pride. Help me, Lord. I am all too often my own worst enemy. Forgive me, and restore me. Amen