24 Another parable he put before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field; 25 but while men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. 27 And the servants of the householder came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then has it weeds?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29But he said, ‘No; lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. 30 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.”
The bridge between the 19th and 20th centuries carried a cargo of optimism. That age was defined by the widening influence of technological progress. Optimism for the fufure grew with each new scientific and technological development. It was generally assumed that any advance in knowledge and capability was on the positive side. The sense was that progress along the whole line of human development would be inevitable.
In 1914 this optimism was put to the test. War was on the horizon. But the temper of the age looked at the propspect and hopefully declared that this would be The “War to End All Wars”. Large-scale human conflict would be put to rest. Democracy would be secure. Tyranny would be brought to an end. When the war ended, the optimism was still there.
By the 1930’s, however, the climate was sobering. The stock market crash of 1929 and the brutal dust bowl years demoralized millions. The war to end tyranny was revealed to be a cure as malignant as the disease. Stalin had replaced the czar. Mussolini ruled in Italy. Hitler was now the head of Germany. The war clouds were again gathering.
When the second world war ended on those atomic punctuation marks at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there was no talk of this being the war to end war. The nuclear spectre had arisen. Now the talk was of a possible third world war, a war that would last about two hours and bring world-wide catastrophe.
The props beneath our optimism and belief in progress are shaky at best. History is always in a state of crisis. You may not always sense it but it is there; evil against good, righteousness against unrighteousness, love against hate and indifference.
Jesus parable reminds us this condition will persist;. The wheat and the weeds grow together and will do so until the Lord God brings in the harvest of history. This should caution us against an uncritical belief in progress. Things may actually get worse. At the same time, the children of God are put here to manage the enterprise of living. We dare not give in to pessimism or despair. For in the last analysis we are not driven by the inconsistencies and inequities of history or our lives. The bridge of hope spans each day. God has placed it there. And it is strong enough to carry us to His good and gracious future.
“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.”