I believe it was the summer of 1980 – and it was called “Starlight Crusade.” Typically, this annual outdoor event was a great excuse for me and “the guys” to scope out girls, embarass ourselves (and them), show off, joke around, and see if we could get the entire row laughing uncontrollably but not get caught. Well, at least that was my MO.
The first time I ever heard (or paid attention to?) the parable of the wheat & the tares. Sr. Pastor Bailey Smith was giving the message in the outdoor football stadium of Del City High School (Go Eagles!) to a crowd of at least a thousand people. I remember it like it was last year. I sat rivited to the edge of my seat. The story sank in deep. I remember hearing the message and feeling so convicted. I completely doubted my salvation because a) I looked like a Christian, b) I grew up around Christians, c) I didn’t always act like what I thought a Christian should act like, d) I had real “issues” that no one else knew about, e) so how could I be saved?
It is a powerful teaching – no doubt. How you respond to it has everything to do with eternal life.
So, that night – along with many deacons, Sunday School teachers, even pastors and pastor’s wives – I went down to get saved (again). Later, upon searching my past and finding myself in the Lord, I realized that I had already given my life to the Lord by that time, but had never been discipled or trained in the ways of a Christian. But, that’s another chapter…
The point is that this story in Matthew 13 had a huge impact on me, my friends, and my entire community. It brought up in many people the fact that “I’m not sure how to live like a Christian, so maybe I’m not a Christian at all.”
I guess the encouragement is – first, MAKE SURE YOU ARE!!! Then, know that you know that you are – and seek Him with all you’ve got – like your life depends upon it. The truth is, I had opportunities to grow deeper in my walk, but I was more interested in worldly pleasures and the pursuit of self.
The part about the tares looking like wheat, growing up among the wheat, but in the end – when it came to harvest time – the tares were bundled up and thrown into the fire really speaks to us. Some avoid thinking about this because “it’s not my place to judge” but I know there are people in my life who go to church, who go through all the motions, who even think they are saved, but have never called on the name of the Lord. There are some who have never been taught, who are clinging to ritual or to their own goodness (hoping their good will outweigh their bad deeds) who will be very surprised.
Remember Matthew 7:
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, `Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 “Many will say to Me on that day, `Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, `I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’
Let these words sink deep – for you and for those in your family, and for those you meet.
Lord, increase my awareness and concern for the lost in this world. Give me the opportunities and the words that would cause them to turn to you!