“Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” Isaiah 1:18 ESV
We had a fellowship meeting at our house on my birthday. It was amazing how the Lord set up the night. We ate, we talked, we hung out, and then gathered in the living room to worship through song and sharing of Scripture and ended by praying for each other.
One of my favorite songs I had chosen was a Vineyard song, Be the the Center. I had misspelled it “Bee the Center” on the sheet of paper hung for all to see. Why did I do that? I wondered. I even drew and colored a few bees on the paper.
(Listen and worship to this song as you read the rest of this):
Later someone asked me about the bees. I told them that I had actually been thinking about the difference between bees and wasps/hornets. Though they look very similar, they are as different as night and day.
Bees are a vital and beloved part of our ecosystem. It cannot be stressed about how invaluable they are. Not only do they promulgate all sorts of flora (most of our vegetables!), they also provide honey to boot.
Wasps and Hornets, however, invade the bees territory and killing and displacing bee populations. Though they may bear some resemblance to bees they are their enemies.
What am I getting at? Well, Jesus told a story about the kingdom of God having the wheat and the tares. The tares are like hornets. They resemble the wheat yet are enemies to the wheat. They encroach and displace and weaken the wheat.
Matthew 13:24-30 (NKJV)
The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares
24 Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; 25 but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. 26 But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. 27 So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”
Notice that the angels know who is who. They want to remove the tares and ask God for permission to. They are told not to. Let them grow together lest you uproot a single wheat. God is not willing to lose a single one.
Now here’s the beauty part: The miracle of salvation is that Jesus is in the business of changing tares into wheat! The hornets can jump ship and become a valuable part of the ecosystem of the kingdom of God and start to make some sweet honey out of their lives! ISIS soldiers can become gentle warriors of Love and be the first to offer their lives to protect the rest of the hive of the body of Christ.
The Saul’s who hounded Christians to the death can become the Paul’s who risk their life daily to add to the growing number of those finding salvation and joining God’s family! The Ishmael’s (the self-righteous religious strivers) among us who have always persecuted the Isaac’s (the children of promise) of the kingdom of God can become the Isaac’s!
As Jesus said,
“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit.” (Matthew 12:33 ESV)
What I see hear is that this is what Jesus does and came to do. Transform the forest of humanity which was dry and brittle and a haunt of demons into good trees once again that flourish with good fruit.
I am reminded of this Scripture from Isaiah. Listen to this:
“In that day the LORD with his hard and great and strong sword will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, Leviathan the twisting serpent, and he will slay the dragon that is in the sea.
2In that day,
“A pleasant vineyard,a sing of it!
3 I, the LORD, am its keeper;
every moment I water it.
Lest anyone punish it,
I keep it night and day;
4 I have no wrath.
Would that I had thorns and briers to battle!
I would march against them,
I would burn them up together.
5Or let them lay hold of my protection,
let them make peace with me,
let them make peace with me.” (Isaiah 27:1-5 ESV)
Ezekiel says this:
“Do you think that I like to see wicked people die? says the Sovereign LORD. Of course not! I want them to turn from their wicked ways and live.” Ezekiel 18:23 NLT
So, how will we respond? As the Scriptures say,
“Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin.” Romans 2:4
“Come now, let’s settle this,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.” Isaiah 1:18 NLT
note: I suppose that’s why I find it confusing that there are entire “ministries” dedicated to exposing and removing the tares among us. There are actually self appointed “watch dogs for the truth” whose entire “ministry” is spent ferreting out the next false teacher to beware of and avoid. They are bound and determined to do exactly what God told the angels NOT to do. hmmm…
Now I am all for talking about the issues. Let’s expose and talk about and ferret out false teaching to be sure (if you actually have a Biblical foundation), but naming names and going after people is a whole different story altogether.