Who should the church throw out?
Then Jesus told them another story: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who planted good seed in his field. That night, when everyone was asleep, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat and then left. Later, the wheat sprouted and the heads of grain grew, but the weeds also grew. Then the man’s servants came to him and said, ‘You planted good seed in your field. Where did the weeds come from?’ The man answered, ‘An enemy planted weeds.’ The servants asked, ‘Do you want us to pull up the weeds?’ The man answered, ‘No, because when you pull up the weeds, you might also pull up the wheat. Let the weeds and the wheat grow together until the harvest time. At harvest time I will tell the workers, “First gather the weeds and tie them together to be burned. Then gather the wheat and bring it to my barn.”’” (Matt. 13:24-30 NCV)
Have you ever realised that Jesus took no public stand against all the issues of His day (and, interestingly, these are still the issues that preoccupy the modern church): slavery, abortion, infanticide, trafficking of women and children, the subordination of women, corruption in government, racism, terrorism, military occupation, slavery or homosexuality? What He did take a clear and unequivocal stand against was spiritual abuse.
Jesus understood that people in his day were scared to commit to Him because they were afraid of the Pharisees and excommunication or disfellowship (John 12:42-43). The Pharisees saw themselves as the religious gate-keepers, controlling those who would be accepted and those who had to be rejected. Jesus, on the other hand, was inclusive of the prostitutes, tax-collectors, society’s most marginalised members and, in so doing, angered the Pharisees.
Religious organisations which claim God’s recognition as being contingent on accepting certain beliefs and religious performance are teaching a false view of God and a false way of serving Him. They conceive God as a legalistic judge, favouring those who agree with their false authority and false religious rules and beliefs. Those who root out all the ones who they define as unbelievers are the equivalent of the Pharisees who Jesus regularly scolded.
We are not called to be God’s executioners. Dehumanising people because we feel that the way we are doing things is the only way of truth and, that in the end, we will be rewarded for our loyalty and submission to man-made rules is spiritual abuse. Authoritarian, spiritual dictatorship that dominates the weak through fear is manipulative and causes deep spiritual wounds.
Jesus in the parable of the wheat and tares is saying that there will always be those in the church who look the part but are inwardly worthless. Be very careful of assuming you know who is who!