Why Tension is Vital as People of the Kingdom: the mission of the wheat in the weeds

“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’

“‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest.’” (Matthew 13:28-30)

In His parable of the wheat and the weeds, Jesus makes it clear that the intermixing of good and evil is a present reality in the world. In some ways, we do not need Jesus to tell us this because we experience it all the time. We experience the beauty of a sunset made more vibrant and striking because of smoke whirling through the air from forest fires. We cry tears of grief over the death of a friend or family member because we experienced so much love toward and from them.

This is true not just generally, however, but personally and relationally. Jesus says the wheat is people of the kingdom and the weeds are people influenced by evil. There is a tension that arises when kingdom people and evil people are mixed together. We feel it in our workplaces, schools, families, and friendships.

Many times, when we feel this tension as people of the kingdom we speak about it in terms of the pressure we feel to live and speak for God when others oppose us. We may sometimes even take on a “woe is me” attitude because we exist within the tensions of good and evil at play in our world.

Some Christians may even say, “Lord, when will You deal with this evil? Couldn’t You just clear all the world of evil influence and people?! Then we could live fully and peacefully with You in this world.” But this is not how it works.

This is not how it works by God’s wise and loving design. Not only do we as people of the kingdom experience tension in ourselves, we are also bringers of tension in the world around us. Hopefully this is not because we are pig-headed and difficult followers of Jesus, but because we are bringing kingdom-oriented tension into the lives of those who do not know or are resisting God.

Part of our mission as people of the kingdom is to bring necessary tension to a world at odds with God. Our very presence as people trying to walk with Jesus, witness to Jesus, and speak about Jesus is a calling to bring the missional tension of the kingdom to people and places that otherwise would have no influence for Christ there.

So we may need to reframe our feelings of tension. We may need to move away from “woe is me” toward “called is me” as we humbly and graciously live and speak for God in the field of the world where wheat and weeds grow together. Until the final harvest arrives, may we bring kingdom tension as witnesses for our living God.

The Weekend Wanderer: 17 April 2021

The Weekend Wanderer” is a weekly curated selection of news, stories, resources, and media on the intersection of faith and culture for you to explore through your weekend. Wander through these links however you like and in any order you like. Disclaimer: I do not necessarily agree with all the views expressed within the articles linked from this page, but I have read them myself in order to make me think more deeply.


intercessory prayer“David Garrison on Why We Must Pray for Muslims Around the World” – “Prayer changes things. It changes the hearts of Muslims even as it changes our own hearts. Let me tell you how I became acutely aware of the impact that prayer has in drawing Muslims to faith. In 2014, I published a book called A Wind in the House of Islam. It was the culmination of a three-year journey that took me 250,000 miles throughout the Muslim world where I was able to gather more than a thousand interviews from Muslims who had come to faith in Jesus Christ and were each a part of a work of God within their community that had seen at least 1,000 baptisms.” Garrison goes on to say that “84% of all the Muslim movements to Christ in history have occurred during our lifetime, in fact, during the past 30 years,” which is precisely linked with the advent of recent prayer movements for the Muslim world. Join us the movement of prayer for the Muslim world during Ramadan.


Missing Word in Race“The Missing Word in Our Reckonings on Race” – Phillip Holmes in Christianity Today: “When trying to solve any problem, large or small, it’s important to remember that hasty solutions based on poorly diagnosed problems lead to failure and frustration. This is true whether we’re talking about marketing, medicine, or ministry. And it’s especially true when it comes to repairing an injustice as complex as slavery and racism in America. Today, there is a tendency to oversimplify the problem. But anyone objectively examining the history of American racism knows that the problem is far from simple. In his own reflections on American race relations, the Dutch Reformed theologian Herman Bavinck expressed confidence that the resources for a solution existed within Christianity. According to biographer James Eglinton, however, he lamented that this solution would never come to pass unless the American church ‘underwent a profound transformation.’ Unfortunately, I see little evidence that such a transformation has taken place. Although pockets of hope and moral clarity exist here and there, white evangelicals have largely glossed over the embarrassing parts of their history and reacted indignantly to any suggestion of needing to make amends.”


books“In Praise of Reading Aloud” – Ali Kjergaard at Mere Orthodoxy: “It felt a bit awkward at first, a group of friends in their mid twenties sitting around in my library in an old Capitol Hill row house. We had all brought our copies of various Tolkien, some with a well-loved copy of The Fellowship, others brought stacks of the lesser known stories; The Silmarillion, The Unfinished Tales, Sigurd and Gudrún. Different levels of Middle Earth experts all brought together by a common love of Tolkien. We had discussed the idea of a ‘Tolkien reading night’ for awhile, but on a rainy night we were attempting to make it happen. But would we be bold enough to flip open the pages and read the words aloud? Reader, we did. And it has made me wish I read aloud more.”


Surge Capacity“Your ‘Surge Capacity’ Is Depleted — It’s Why You Feel Awful” – I hear a lot from people that they are tired but don’t know why. Here’s an explanation from Tara Haelle at elemental: “It was the end of the world as we knew it, and I felt fine. That’s almost exactly what I told my psychiatrist at my March 16 appointment, a few days after our children’s school district extended spring break because of the coronavirus. I said the same at my April 27 appointment, several weeks after our state’s stay-at-home order….I knew it wouldn’t last. It never does. But even knowing I would eventually crash, I didn’t appreciate how hard the crash would be, or how long it would last, or how hard it would be to try to get back up over and over again, or what getting up even looked like.”


burnout“The Exaggeration of ‘Burnout’ in America” – But I always like opposing views on matters so here is Jonathan Malesic in The National Review with a different take: “I bet you’re burned out after enduring a full year of the Covid-19 pandemic. If you have kids, you’re probably trying to teach them at home, either between work shifts out in the world or while sharing a kitchen-table office with them. You might have had to care for sick family members while somehow avoiding the virus yourself. And if your job is in health care, education, transportation, or retail, then you have likely worked nonstop at great risk for months on end….In the last few years, burnout has become an important keyword for understanding our misery at work and frustration with the rest of our lives. The pandemic only increased burnout’s relevance. But not all forms of burnout are borne equally, and the popularization of the term has both flattened its meaning and diluted its usefulness in addressing the problem with work in America.”


Jesus cross“Recovering the Ars Moriendi – This article from Miles S. Mullin, II, is from a few years back, but I stumbled upon it a few weeks ago while preparing for Holy Saturday, and think it is still worth the read. “Familiarity with death meant that resurrection possessed a considerable poignancy for the women, bringing a hope that countered the ubiquitous fear of death. As the good news spread, the first-century readers of the Apostle Paul’s  First Letter to the Corinthians (and most readers since) had an acute sense of what it meant that “the last enemy to be destroyed is death (1 Cor. 15:26, NRSV). Until Easter, death had been victorious, the destroyer of lives, families, and hope. But victory only tastes sweeter when defeat is the norm. For the first Christians, the news of Jesus’s victory over death as ‘the first fruits’ (I Cor. 15:23) was sweet indeed.”


Music: Ólafur Arnalds, “Still / Sound,” from Sunrise Session.

The Weekend Wanderer: 13 March 2021

The Weekend Wanderer” is a weekly curated selection of news, stories, resources, and media on the intersection of faith and culture for you to explore through your weekend. Wander through these links however you like and in any order you like. Disclaimer: I do not necessarily agree with all the views expressed within the articles linked from this page, but I have read them myself in order to make me think more deeply.even sharing it with someone who you know struggles in this way.


Jay Kim“What We Learned About the Embodied Church During the Pandemic” – Jay Kim, author of Analog Church, writes this guest post at Scot McKnight’s blog, Jesus Creed: “As locked down as we’ve been this past year, there have been exceptions to the safety protocol rules. Even at a civic level, there is an understanding that some elements of human experience demand embodied presence. We’ve made allowances for temporary closeness during a time of temporary distance. This has accentuated our longing for the ‘new normal’ of social distancing to give way to the ‘timeless normal’ of embodied presence. For pastors and church leaders, 2020 has forced us to stand at the disorienting intersection between digital and analog. But as we begin to see the proverbial light at the end of the Covid tunnel (hopefully), a brief reflection on a handful of learnings from this strange year may help us navigate the days ahead.”


Luis Palau“Died: Luis Palau, Who Preached the Gospel from Portland to Latin America and Beyond” – Morgan Lee at Christianity Today: “Evangelist Luis Palau has died at age 86 of lung cancer. An immigrant from Argentina who made his home in the United States, Palau became one of Billy Graham’s most prominent successors and shared the gospel in more than 80 countries around the world. His ministry led millions of individuals to make personal decisions to follow Jesus. Palau preached the gospel to heads of state in Latin America and as the Iron Curtain fell in the USSR, his crusades bringing together a diverse array of Christians, including Protestants, Orthodox, and Catholics. As a young man, Palau interpreted for Graham, who later helped fund Palau’s evangelism organization when it officially started in 1978.”


Beth Moore“Bible teacher Beth Moore, splitting with Lifeway, says, ‘I am no longer a Southern Baptist'” – Bob Smietana at Religion News Service: “For nearly three decades, Beth Moore has been the very model of a modern Southern Baptist. She loves Jesus and the Bible and has dedicated her life to teaching others why they need both of them in their lives. Millions of evangelical Christian women have read her Bible studies and flocked to hear her speak at stadium-style events where Moore delves deeply into biblical passages….Then along came Donald Trump. Moore’s criticism of the 45th president’s abusive behavior toward women and her advocacy for sexual abuse victims turned her from a beloved icon to a pariah in the denomination she loved all her life.”


Keller cancer“Growing My Faith in the Face of Death” – Tim Keller, Pastor Emeritus of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan and Christian author, announced his diagnosis with pancreatic cancer last summer. Here is Keller in the The Atlantic reflecting on death and how this journey has grown his faith. “I have spent a good part of my life talking with people about the role of faith in the face of imminent death. Since I became an ordained Presbyterian minister in 1975, I have sat at countless bedsides, and occasionally even watched someone take their final breath. I recently wrote a small book, On Death, relating a lot of what I say to people in such times. But when, a little more than a month after that book was published, I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, I was still caught unprepared.”


Frederick Douglass“The Liberating Word Made Flesh” – Nathan Beacom in Comment: “In learning to read, Frederick Douglass embarked on a path that would lead to his becoming the most powerful advocate of his time for black dignity. He became an icon, the most well-known face of the age, all through the force of his power as a writer and a speaker. His arguments reshaped the conscience of the country. Language, for Douglass, had an intimate relationship with flesh—that is, with practical, lived reality. His language had the power to make people feel in their own flesh the suffering bodies of slaves; it had the capacity to motivate them to relieve that suffering. Both the logic of his arguments and their inspiration lay in the Word made flesh. His key notion—that all men and women are children of one Father, and therefore possessed of immeasurable dignity—came from his reading of Scripture. The story of the suffering Christ, put to death unjustly by the reigning social hierarchy, was a subversion of the corrupt power dynamics of human societies, and showed that God identifies with the oppressed, marginalized, and unjustly persecuted.”


RZIM office“RZIM Will No Longer Do Apologetics” – Daniel Silliman in Christianity Today: ” Once the largest apologetics ministry in the world, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) will stop doing apologetics work this year. CEO Sarah Davis announced to staff Wednesday morning that over the next six months, the downsized ministry will remake itself as a grant-making charity. It plans to give money to organizations fulfilling its original purpose of defending the truth of the gospel as well as organizations that care for victims of sexual abuse. ‘RZIM cannot and should not continue to operate as an organization in its present form. Nor do we believe we can only rename the organization and move forward with “business as usual,”‘ said Davis, who is Zacharias’s daughter and has led the ministry since his death in May 2020.”


Music: Sons of Korah, “Psalm 80,” from Resurrection.

The Weekend Wanderer: 13 February 2021

The Weekend Wanderer” is a weekly curated selection of news, stories, resources, and media on the intersection of faith and culture for you to explore through your weekend. Wander through these links however you like and in any order you like. Disclaimer: I do not necessarily agree with all the views expressed within the articles linked from this page, but I have read them myself in order to make me think more deeply.


Iran Gospel Movements“Meet the World’s Fastest-Growing Evangelical Movement” – Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra at The Gospel Coalition: “While official reports still claim that 99.4 percent of Iranians practice Islam, a 2020 survey found that just 40 percent actually identify as Muslim. An even larger number—about 47 percent—said they were ‘nones,’ atheists, spiritual, agnostic, or humanist. Another 8 percent claim Zoroastrianism, an ancient Persian religion. And a small sliver—1.5 percent—said they were Christians. ‘About 20 years ago, the number of Christian converts from a Muslim background was between 5,000 and 10,000 people,’ Crabtree said. ‘Today that’s between 800,000 to 1 million people. That’s massive growth.’ According to Operation World, Iran has the fastest-growing evangelical movement in the world.”


The Black Church“The Black Church: This is our story – this is our song” – I just saw this new series premiering from PBS: “The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song is a moving four-hour, two-part series from executive producer, host and writer Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University and director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, that traces the 400-year-old story of the Black church in America, all the way down to its bedrock role as the site of African American survival and grace, organizing and resilience, thriving and testifying, autonomy and freedom, solidarity and speaking truth to power. The documentary reveals how Black people have worshipped and, through their spiritual journeys, improvised ways to bring their faith traditions from Africa to the New World, while translating them into a form of Christianity that was not only truly their own, but a redemptive force for a nation whose original sin was found in their ancestors’ enslavement across the Middle Passage.” Trailer here.


Hershel Shanks“Died: Hershel Shanks, Editor Who Saved Biblical Archaeology from Academics” – Daniel Silliman at Christianity Today: “Hershel Shanks, the founder and longtime editor of Biblical Archaeology Reviewdied on Friday at the age of 90….The biggest test of Shanks’s clout in the field came in the early 1990s, when he decided it was time to make the Dead Sea Scrolls widely available. Though the texts had been discovered in the 1940s, only bits and pieces had been shown to the public—or even to other scholars. The academics in charge of the study of the scrolls were carefully guarding them until their own extensive research was published….Shanks thought this was dumb and persuaded Abegg to let him publish the ‘bootleg’ version of the scrolls that Abegg had reconstructed by computer from a concordance of Dead Sea Scrolls words that was assembled in the late 1950s but kept secret outside of a small group of specialists.”


Kathleen Norris - Retreat“How to Retreat When We Can’t Go to Retreats” – Here is renowned author Kathleen Norris: “For years in America, the retreat centers sponsored by churches and monasteries have been booked up well in advance. People recognize that they need the chance to enter into silence and live for a while in a place where the day is centered on prayer and contemplation. They need the music, art, and conversation that programs at these facilities provide. These centers are often found in places of great natural beauty, encouraging guests to take time to enjoy and praise God’s creation as they hike a trail or swim in a river. I doubt that anyone expected 2020 would be the year when we were all suddenly plunged into a forced retreat in our own homes. “


evangelical Myanmar“After Military Coup, It’s ‘Time to Shout’ for Myanmar Evangelicals” – Kate Shellnutt at Christianity Today: “Evangelical pastors in Myanmar have taken to the streets alongside their Buddhist neighbors in the week since a military takeover, believing that God is on the people’s side and praying desperately for him to bring justice. Amid nationwide internet and phone shutdowns, some churches gathering online due to the pandemic couldn’t connect to worship together last weekend, the first Sunday since the coup in the Southeast Asian nation formerly known as Burma. Hundreds of displaced Christians have been physically blocked out of their towns due to travel restrictions and roadblocks.”


Music: Lachrimae” by John Dowland performed by Christopher Morrongiello, filmed in the Chapel from Le Château de la Bastie d’Urfé at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Holy Spirit in Us: Living in the Kingdom of God Now

This past weekend at Eastbrook Church we continued our series, “The Kingdom of God.” This first two weeks of the series I explored the theme of the kingdom of God through the Old Testament and New Testament. This week , I walked through three main aspects of living in the kingdom of God: personally living in the kingdom, living as the community of God in the kingdom, and joining God’s kingdom work in the world.

You can view the message video and outline for the message is below. You can follow along with the entire series here and the devotional that accompanies the series here. You could always join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.


“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, 
but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit’” (Romans 14:17)

I: Life in God’s Kingdom by the Spirit

  • Life in the Spirit (Romans 14:17-18)
  • The surprisingly blessed life  (Matthew 5:2-12)
  • The obedient and fruitful life (Galatians 5:13-26)

We: Life Together in God’s Kingdom by the Spirit

  • The community that takes on Christ’s kingly character (Ephesians 4:14-16)
  • The community that takes on Christ’s servant character (Philippians 2:1-11)

They: Kingdom Mission with the Spirit

  • Word: The Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8)
  • Deed: The Great Commandment  (Matthew 22:34-40)

Dig Deeper

This week dig deeper into the theme of living in the kingdom of God in one or more of the following ways: