As in last week’s story, Jesus seems to be telling us that God is somewhat sloppy when it comes to bestowing gifts. Actually, it wasn’t just Jesus—from the book of Genesis on, we find God being willing to call and equip individuals whose flaws were as obvious as their strengths. A lot of the folks God chooses wouldn’t even make the first cut for our lists. That is good news for us, frankly. We are often more aware of our flaws than our strengths, too. And here are stories aplenty telling us that God still has work for us to do. God still has a place, even for the likes of us. What a gospel!
So, what are we celebrating then? Bad behavior? No, of course not. We are acknowledging and celebrating God’s never-ending grace. For us and for the folks we sometimes struggle with. This is a call to keep praying for the wayward child or the difficult neighbor, even those we are led to call enemies. Not because we are lax toward sinfulness, but because we are abounding in grace and steadfast love, like the God we worship.
Are there testimonies from the life of the community of faith that could lift up this redeeming grace? Not stories about someone, but stories told by someone who can reflect on a transformed life. When we see God’s grace at work, we are more in tune with how to share that grace with others.
In the same way, stories of answers to prayer can be an inspiration to keep praying, even in the face of what may seem to be a lost cause. Jesus’ story of the weeds and wheat tells us that what may appear to be a lost cause to us isn’t necessarily lost to grace. Let our prayers overflow for our own healing but also for the healing of the world. We might be— no, we are continually surprised at what God’s grace can do and for whom. We never know who we might see shining like the sun. We are learning to imagine a new reality where even flawed humans, like ourselves, can be disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
Rev. Dr. Derek Weber, Director of Preaching Ministries, served churches in Indiana and Arkansas and the British Methodist Church. His PhD is from University of Edinburgh in preaching and media. He has taught preaching in seminary and conference settings for more than 20 years.