IF God is Good Why is there Evil?

Matt. 13:24-30; 36-43

July 23, 2017

Pastor Michael A. Trask

Albertiville, MN

 

Have you ever gone for a ride in the country with a farmer on Sunday afternoon? You’ve seen them, I’m sure of it. On state highways and county roads. In Chevy impala’s and Galaxy 500’s and big Oldsmobiles, Buicks, and big Chryslers. They drive very slowly. ln the Driver’s seat is the farmer, passenger side is his wife, back seat is open to anyone like extended family, visitors and neighbors. And they drive slow with eyes not on the road, but to the left and the right. They are “Sunday Drivers:, that’s what my dad would call them. What are they doing?

They are looking at the fields. That’s because what’s happening in the fields is what they do for a living. So they are, of course, very interested in how the fields are doing. And yet, it’s not just their own fields that attract their attention, but their neighbor’s fields as well. Someimtes they will have nothing but praise for the farmer who has a good field, but on the other hand they will heap scorn on the farmer whose fields are what they call “dirty”. A dirty field is one that has lots of weeds raising their ugly heads in the midst of the regular crop. A lot of times, but not all the time, the presence of weeds in a person’s field tends to suggest that he is not a good farmer. Farmers are often judged by the way that their fields look.

So here’s the question of the day , If “All the World is God’s own field”, If God is the Farmer and the earth is his field, then what sort of conclusions do people come to about him as drive though life in big sedans? Well if they’re up at the lake watching a Sunset or in a National park looking at the mountains or canyons, they will breath deeply and say to themselves, “God is Good. He’s s good farmer!” But if they see the crime in the city or suffering in a hospital; or the absolute cruelty and hatred with which people treat each other, they will sometimes come to the conclusion that God is not that good of a farmer. How could he be, look at all the weeds! God made the world and the world, seems to be a dirty field.

It is this very conclusion which Jesus addresses in the Parable of the weeds in the wheat, which is the Gospel lesson for Today. A man goes out and sows good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat. And when the plants came up and they started to bear fruit, the difference between the weeds and the wheat became quite evident… for in the midst of an otherwise heterogeneous field pokes these ragged weeds.

Fully understanding the shame that is a dirty field, and concerned about what the people might think as they drove by, his mem came and said “What’s going on, didn’t you plant good seed in your field? What’s with the weeds!?” He explained, that it was his enemy that had done this. His men then propose that they go tramping out into the field and pull up the weeds. But the farmer says, “No no no no,..... you’ll pull up some of the wheat if you do that..... were going to let them grow together until harvest, whereupon we will separate the weeds from the wheat. We’ll save the wheat, but burn the weeds” We do that in modern times with a series of screens and other techniques.

Thankfully, this is another parable which Jesus explains to us! The Sower of the good seed is Jesus. The field in which he sows it is the world. The good seed are the the “children of the Kingdom” are those who believe in Christ and follow him. The Weeds are what Jesus refers to as “the sons of the evil one”.....and that would be all those whom the devil has convinced to join him in rebelling against God. The enemy who sowed these seeds is the devil.

Now I’d like to pause at this point to consider that burning question that is on everyone’s mind and ultimately leads people who tour the world in their big sedans to come to the point of accusing God of not being good. What’s the burning question? In the parable it’s “what’s with the weeds... didn’t you plant good seed?” Which is really more like “God aren’t you supposed to be good, why is there evil in the world?”

In the parable we learn that the enemy has done this. And the enemy, of course, is Satan. Long long ago, he rebelled against God. The Greek word we translate as Devil, in Greek is “diaballow” .... which means: “To throw down” as in the devil is thrown down one. He was cast out of God’s presence because of his rebellion. Since that time, he’s been mucking about in God’s field planting bad seeds and trying to lead people like you and me to come to the conclusion that God is a bad farmer. He want’s us to conclude that so we will not believe on God’s Son so that we will ultimately join him (the devil) in hell.

But then there’s another burning Question that is the companion to the first burning question: “Why doesn’t God do something about the evil in the world? ” Or as the farmer’s men said “why don’t we go out and pull all those weeds? In other words, Why does God allow evil people to exist in our midst? Why doesn’t he end the lives all bad guys in the world with a big old lightening bolt from heaven right now so that the Earth would be a nicer place to live?

Before I answer that let me ask you something: have you ever been the bad guy? Ever stolen anything? Ever hurt someone? Ever had evil thoughts? Ever committed adultery? Ever hated another privately? Ever used hurtful words. You see where I’m going with this? IF God, instantly did away with those who do evil, you wouldn’t be here? Because you have done evil.

So why are you still here? Why are others who are evil still here? Because God’s got a good memory. It is he who made them. He who knit them together in their mother’s wombs. And regardless of how foul or how distorted they have become, he has not forgotten what they were meant to be or what they could be. He loves them and wishes to save them through his Son who by his death and resurrection defeated the evil one and all of his ways. And so he grants them life. Their lifetime is their opportunity to come to the knowledge of the truth and be saved. To put it plainly, if God would eliminate sinners for sinning, there would be no one left in the world. God would rather save sinners … and so for a season; before the harvest, he allows them to go on living with us. Mercy is quite messy sometimes.

God is not unjust as some drive-by critics would suppose, he is simply being merciful. Justice will come in due time. We continue with the parable now. The weeds will be separated from the wheat n the end. As Jesus explains, “the harvest is the close of the age, and the reapers are the angels. Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age.” “All causes of sin and all law-breakers will be thrown into the fiery furnace...where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth”. He’s describing the hell which will be for those who do not repent.

But at the same time, those who are righteous by faith Christ Jesus, will shine like Sun! How’s that possible? That we shine like the Sun? We are not so shiny now. We are actually kind of dingy at times. This is what forgiveness is about. When we have Christ, who died on the cross for our sins, God uses that thing that Christ did as the lens through which he views us. Anyone who thinks that God doesn’t do anything about evil, need look no further than the cross of Christ! Jesus was made to suffer and die for all that is evil even though he himself was not evil. He didn’t suffer for what he did. He suffered for what we did… we and all humanity. And this he did willingly… to release us and the entire world, it’s people and contents from it’s bondage to decay. To accuse God of being unjust is to miss the point entirely. Justice was served completely when Jesus went to the cross…. so that he might be merciful to us. Thats why God is allowing his field to be dirty, because he values all people, despite the fact that they don’t value him. AMEN