‘Hybrid’ seeds

Growing among the weeds means making choices

Apr 27, 2015 by

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As spring warms the earth, wheat fields wake from their winter slumber. Rockets of gluten rise from the plains and turn to amber waves of parables. The stories Jesus tells in Matthew 13 revolve around sowers, seeds, weeds and a divine harvest.

The parable of the weeds focuses specifically on sowing a wheat field (Matt. 13:24-29, 36-43). But then an enemy spreads weeds. The landowner tells the servants not to yank them at first sight, because the young wheat could be uprooted as well. By waiting until the time of harvest judgment, the weeds can be collected for burning.

Every Christian hopes to be the wheat. Mennonites might be especially drawn to the parable, since the rise of wheat in North America is woven so closely with the Russian Mennonite immigrant experience of introducing successful strains. But most developments in wheat varieties are due to cross-breeding — not a historic Mennonite strength, as evidenced by a lack of last-name diversity.

The Matthew 13 parable illustrates promised comfort and resolution for Christians beset by adversaries. But it offers a poor model for the mission “field.” By identifying some as wheaty children of God and others as the progeny of Satan, it is implied that Christians should stick to themselves, steel their holy resolve and run out the clock until the afterlife.

For Christians subjected to the terrors of Boko Haram and the Islamic State, living among weeds isn’t metaphor. It is real life and death. For the rest of us, the parable of the wheat and weeds might make more sense by applying a non-agricultural definition of “hybrid” to seed engineering.

God created each person a hybrid mix of potential for good and bad. None of us is pure wheat, nor pure weed.

Through fertilizing and irrigating in worship and study, and the cross-pollination of fellowship, a body of believers can develop a yield worthy of the Creator — hopefully with hybrid converts.

Monoculture is bad agriculture. Had God intended it for his followers, he would not have planted the church in the midst of the Roman Empire. If anything, churches are intended to thrive in the diversity of post-Christendom.

Anabaptism is built on the hybrid concept. The adult decision it requires is compromised if a young plant never leaves the safety of the greenhouse. Strong roots and a sturdy trunk have little reason to grow into their potential if they are never subjected to the real world’s harsh elements.

A harvest is coming. How are we growing?

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