I looked and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one “like a son of man” with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand. Then another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him who was sitting on the cloud, “Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.” So he who was seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth and the earth was harvested.”
Revelation 14, 14-16
This is a subject which has taken up much of my prayer, meditation, reading and reflection time, as on the one hand, much of Jesus’ ministry focuses on exposing false prophets and wolves dressed in sheep’s clothing, and yet, exposing these wolves puts the “watchmen” in God’s temple in a very vulnerable position, where not only they become a target themselves, but also judgement of others becomes a very tempting prospect, as there is a very thin line between having the eyes to see and the ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the church, and spiritual pride blinding a man or woman to the point where they do not let God be God and do the things that only God is meant to do. In the end, many Christians who dedicate much of their ministry pulling out the weeds from the wheat, end up displaying clear signs themselves of unrighteous anger, as they use very questionable methods which reveal some very unchristian attitudes towards other men and women. As a result, those who are meant to be the cure to the cancer that is assailing The Church, become not only part of its precarious state, but more worryingly, the wood that continues to fuel the fire; the proof that the world needs in order to declare that the Church of Jesus Christ is hollow and bogus and made up of a bunch of hypocrites who cannot put into practice “their own teachings” and principles.
When I look around at other Christian blogs and websites, I am always shocked and quite frankly disturbed to see how very many Christians dedicate their gifts, time and efforts to not only expose but also destroy the ministry of those who in their opinion, fall very short of the service that God has entrusted The Church to do in this world. I am not so much shocked by the exposure of apostasy in our church, which Jesus clearly mentioned would be a characteristic of the end times church, but more so, because of the manner in which it is done. Many individuals take it upon themselves to identify by name and surname those whom they declare to be wolves among the sheep. Whilst I have fallen in the trap of spiritual pride myself on occasions and discussed with close friends people in ministry whose motives and attitudes I was putting into question, it is a different matter altogether when this is done in the public arena and about people whom we don’t know much, other than the stuff we read in the papers, internet, or worse still, on other blogs which also act with a lack of truthfulness, fairness and integrity, all things which should characterise Christ’s followers. It is one thing to put into question what is taking place in a church, in so called “Revival Meetings and Conferences”, or a person’s specific ministry. It is quite another to use the flawed and scheming tactics of those whom we are trying to expose, in order to do so; to come right down to their level and forget whose we are; to resort to sin in order to achieve our goals; to give into temptation and commit a sin which we cover up as pursuing justice and speaking the truth.
This is a very close issue to my heart and my journey as a Christian, because I have had to learn through my own personal mistakes how to go about exposing “sin” in others. Yes, the word of God calls us to test all things and also to make each other accountable and speak up the truth in love, so that we can stop someone from taking a wrong turn from which there may be no way back. Just as iron sharpens iron, Christian relationships must be based on honesty and the courage to speak up when need be. However, when the friction between fellow Christian brothers and sisters does not take place within the intimacy of those relationships and with the delicacy, honour, respect and love that the mutual bond that such relationships stand on deserves, the members of the Body of Christ step out of their anointing and “the power” perceived as their own, becomes off limits. When this happens, the enemy that comes to kill, steal and destroy, swiftly and subtly, clutches our heart strings to its own ends, and our pursuit is no longer to reel in the sheep that is threatening to get lost, but the quest becomes more about us than them; it becomes more about our greatness and giftedness for being able to see what others accept as truth, but we know to be tares.
Please let me share with you a passage I was reading this morning from Matthew 13, which talks about the Parable of the Weeds:
24 Jesus told them another parable: The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field.
25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away.
26 When the wheat sprouted and formed ears, then the weeds also appeared.
27 The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’
28 ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
29 ‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them.
30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’
Here comes the striking thing, a while later Jesus actually takes the trouble to explain exactly the point that he is trying to illustrate with this parable; the very meaning of each element that constitutes such illustration, so that there is absolutely no room for doubt about what he is trying to say. It would be interesting to see how many more parables in the New Testament come with their exact explanation. From recollection, not many, maybe none, which leads me to believe that this is a crucial point right here which Jesus is putting across to his followers. His explanation is as follows:
36 Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said: “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”
37 He answered: “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man.”
38 The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one,
39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
40 As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age.
41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil.
42 They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.
It does not get clearer than that!
Coming back to the parable itself, and to the dangers and risks that exposing others entail, we become aware, through Jesus’ own words, about not only the danger that this poses to His servants who seek to expose sin, but more importantly to others. As the servants ask the owner of the field whether they should pull up the weeds from amongst the wheat, the owner categorically says: “No, because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them”. In other words, if we start judging others’ actions and attitudes, we may “damage” some of the good plants. Slander, accusations which are not supported by irrevocable evidence, gossip, and hearsay can do more to damage the Body of Christ than the very ones we are trying to expose: those who are not authentic and genuine in their love for our Saviour. When we step beyond our anointing and we act on personal agendas and act outside the will of God, we destroy sincere and devoted Christians who get caught and hit badly in the line of fire. God’s heart is that none should perish, and therefore, Christians must take very seriously Jesus’ command not to pull up the weeds from amongst the wheat, because that job has been assigned since the beginning of times to the harvesters, Jesus’ angels, to do at the end of the age, when everything that causes sin and all who do evil will be weeded out of his Kingdom, and thrown into the fiery furnace.