Our lives are a mixed farm with the choice to let wheat or weeds thrive
By Edward Buri
| December 5th 2021
I read a story of a man who was shot years ago. The bullet is still lodged in his head after doctors judged it too dangerous to be removed. The surgical process would jeopardise his life. He will live longer and better if the foreign object is left in his body. This story echoes the wisdom of Jesus in the parable of the mixed farm. Let the weeds stay for the sake of the crop. The weeds will not be removed, but the crop will not be moved.
Jesus was a sharp analyst and critique of his society. He often coded his observations and discernment in images and symbolism that captured great depth yet with an accessibility that ordinary people would appreciate, like in the Parable of the Weeds.
Every farmer knows that a crop’s success is to a great extent dependent on the failure of the weeds. If weeds thrive, the crop will be weak, the leaves will wither and turn an unfriendly colour, and the yield that is the ultimate goal will drop drastically to great frustration.
The weed that Jesus talks about in the parable is not a normal weed. It is a weed sown at night when no one is watching. It is not an accidental weed. It is sown deliberately. It is not a natural weed. Even the regular weeds would notice an alien weed, a new weed-in-town. It may be a kind of weed that is cultured in a laboratory after a careful study of the crop that it is meant to finish. It is a lethal weed sown maliciously and militantly with one mission–to finish the wheat. Like a guided missile, it is an intelligent weed, one that may even camouflage itself such that only a keen farmer would spot it.
But contrary to normal agricultural practice, Jesus, in the parable, is giving strange wisdom. He advises his servants to let the weeds stay. He states firmly that if the weeds were removed, the crop would die. This, paradoxically, meaning that if you keep the weeds you will save the crop. In this wisdom, Jesus sets up an interesting form of mixed farm: one that does not know a weeding season because it is a farm of weeds and wheat.
But for Jesus to allow such a malicious enemy-crafted weed to grow among the wheat, he must have known something about the wheat. He knows that the wheat is made of resilient stuff. He must be confident that the wheat can survive the malice; tough enough to not only survive but to thrive. He must know that the weed will not threaten the yield. The mixed farm of weeds and wheat is not a secluded and theoretical description. Rather, it tells of the experience of all of us–as persons, as communities, and also as a nation. This parable describes the reality of our lives.
There are primarily two forces that seek to claim us in almost every path–the power of darkness and the power of light; the path of right and the pathway of wrong. We can go the way of the wheat or the way of the weeds. And in all these cases, and your personal experiences can confirm, the power of the dark, the wrong, and the weed always seems more creative, more convincing. No wonder we have often been victims of its attraction.
There is a struggle in each one of us between the spirit and the flesh. Threats to your good existence come from outside of you and some vicious ones come from inside you. Even at our personal level, we are a mixed farm. We have wheat and weeds working hard to dominate us. But you decide what farm you want to be–a wheat farm with weeds, or a weed farm with wheat. Our communities have both the schemes of light and darkness simultaneously at work. They are a mixed farm of wheat and weeds.
We cannot tell the weeds from the wheat in our leaders simply by looking at their party affiliations or tribal roots. One’s wheat or weed status cannot be determined simply by what they say–however well they say it. The truth lies in their conscience. The heart-look way outweighs the outlook. The enlightenment from the parable of the wheat and weeds makes us aware of the possible look-alike camouflage.
We have to build spiritual intelligence, a discerning capacity that listens beyond the words and instead engages in knowing the hearts. It is this prophetic capacity for discernment that exposes even the most complicated of deceptions. Our community is in dire need of discerners who can boldly tell apart the wheat and weed brands. The religious sector must work harder to boost the supply of accurate seers and with them the quality of critique of contemporary power systems.
Sober living calls us to be on the wheat-side of things. We are witnesses of what the seeds of corruption, tribalism, manipulation and evil competition can yield. Because God, in his great mercy, has often spared Kenya from great destruction, we would be mocking his mercy if we befriend and insist on old habits and destructive vices. God will not be demanding too much by asking us to live as a people who have learnt.
The Lord of the Wheat, who is also the Lord of the harvest, sometimes lets the weeds and the wheat grow together not so that the wheat may be destroyed, but so that the wheat may lovingly see maturation.
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