Are we the wheat or the tares?

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Poppyseed
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Are we the wheat or the tares?

Post by Poppyseed » 17 Jan 2010, 15:07

I was talking to a friend the other day and comiserating over our love of and trouble with the church. My friend and I see things the same way. Both of us love the doctrine but struggle with culture and "church". And then she asked me this question. "Are we the wheat or the tares?"

The question stopped me and caused me to study the parable so I could understand it better. (see Matt 13)

I found it rather comforting when I read how the alarmed servant wanted to go gather up all the tares but the Lord said not to because.... "Lest while ye gather up the tares ye root up also the wheat with them. "Let both grow together until the harvest...."

I remember learning somewhere that tares look exactly like the wheat until harvest time when they take on their defining characteristics. This made me wonder about the church. I mean God must know the church is flawed. He must know the work of Satan as he plants tares inside the church by way of culture or pride or stupid outter appearances of people and things. And if the wheat and the tares look like the same plant during the season then maybe this is why its so hard to discern the truth from the culture or the culture from the doctrine or the doctrine from the church.

Maybe.....maybe.....some of us see the tares before the harvest and see that the field is corrupted and panic like the servant did. But maybe we need to allow the wheat and tares to live together until the harvest like the Lord does.

I don't know. Sometimes I think wheat and tares are people. SOmetimes I think they are ideas or practices.

What do you guys think? I'd love to open up a conversation.
“Be not afraid of growing slowly; be afraid only of standing still.” --old Chinese proverb

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just me
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Re: Are we the wheat or the tares?

Post by just me » 17 Jan 2010, 16:04

Good topic.

I went from thinking the wheat and tares were people to where I am now-believing that they are "doctrines" or beliefs.

I think the story of the wheat and the tares is correlated with what is says in Nephi about there being "opposition in all things." One of the most empowering and eye opening things I learned during this ride is that even the scriptures contain truth/false or good/bad. Although, now I'm not even sure if we should put a judgment on them maybe it just "opposition." I dunno. I am pretty adament that killing, lying, etc is wrong.

It's like I've heard said, we could use the scriptures as a proof-text for just about anything. And now I believe that it is supposed to be that way. God wants us to all be free to choose. If the tares were eliminated we would not have choice. To me that is the symbolic meaning of that story.

I am glad I no longer believe in a cruel God that would burn up his children because they weren't exact in their obedience to him. At the same time I can see that there are people who need to believe that. That belief serves a purpose and is probably instructive to them. FWIW, I have never met a person who believed *they* were a tare. It's always *the other guy* who is the tare.
Most of us, sooner or later, find that at critical points in our lives we must strike out on our own to make a path where none exists.~Elaine Pagels

Ultimately, you are the path-the path begins and ends with you.~Stephan Bodian

He who think he knows, doesn’t know: He who knows he doesn’t know, knows.~Sanskrit proverb

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Bill Atkinson
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Re: Are we the wheat or the tares?

Post by Bill Atkinson » 17 Jan 2010, 16:26

Poppyseed this is a good question and from my own personal point of view potentially dangerous, what if on consideration I decide that indeed I am a tare? What is there to do?

On a more prosaic level Wikipedia comes to information front with this artlice : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lolium_temulentum
and here is a quote from that article that fills out some of the depth of the parable:
The ears on the real wheat are so heavy that it makes the entire plant droop downward, but L. temulentum, whose ears are light, stands up straight. The wheat will also appear brown when ripe, whereas the darnel is black.
so not only is it hard to tell the wheat from the tares in the early stages of growth when we get to the point where it IS possible to see then we get a few more metaphorical hits:
  • 1. the wheat has a much larger "harvest" or load of grain in the head such that the heads droop, now that is both bringing to mind the parable of the talents but also the workman worthy of their hire. In addition wheat, in essense, "bows" or gives the impression of "praying", of acknowledging Heavenly Father and thanking Him for their bounty.
    2. the color of the tare seed (darnel or cockle as Wikipedia explains) is BLACK!!!!!! what could be a better color for a hypocrite who has been pretending to be pious and Christian but in his heart is critical, grasping, full pride etc. etc.
Just to confuse the issue some more there is an ongoing argument over whether this pariticular parable was every really spoken by Jesus and was instead a later interpolation by an editor concerned with the way the early Christian church through the 200 to 400s fragmented so easily into a wide variety of beliefs only loosely corresponding to the gospels.

I think the modern scripture that captures the essence of the problem is this:
D&C 121: 39-42
39 We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.

40 Hence many are called, but few are chosen.

41 No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;

42 By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—
I think that this is the key to "juding" for ourselves what parts of the culture are not serving to take the gospel forward. I guess it boils down to humility and I think you see that with most of the people on the board, yes they are struggling, yes they have questions BUT none of them say something like: "We know how the Church should be run so get out of our way and let us do it!"

I agree a good conversation can be had, let's have at it.
All true artists, whether they know it or not, create from a place of no-mind, from inner stillness.
Ernest Ludwig Kirchner

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MapleLeaf
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Re: Are we the wheat or the tares?

Post by MapleLeaf » 18 Jan 2010, 01:04

Good post, Poppyseed!

One good thing about Jesus' teachings is that he tends to explain the same things over and over again in different ways. This particular concept is taught at least one other time - in Matthew 25 with the parable of the Goats and the Sheep. And there's a verse in Revelation that also comes to mind. Based on these two comparisons, I am convinced that the wheat and tares represent people, not merely ideas or practices.

Matthew 25:32-34 "32And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."

Ideas and practices certainly cannot "inherit the kingdom" - these verses are talking about the final judgement of people.

Revelation 18:2,4, "...Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen... And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues."

This verse indicates that some of God's people are currently in Babylon. To me, this is comparable to the wheat growing together with the tares. But they are not to be that way forever - there is a point at the very end when God calls his people out of Babylon, divides the sheep from the goats, and gathers the harvest.

Matthew 13:30, "Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn."
"If you wish to see the truth then hold no opinions for or against anything. To set up what you like against what you dislike is the disease of the mind." -Chien-chih Seng-ts'an, Zen Buddhist [606 AD]

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Re: Are we the wheat or the tares?

Post by Curt Sunshine » 18 Jan 2010, 10:04

Great question, but I'm not into trying to figure out who are the wheat (the bitter fruit) and the who are the tares (the good fruit). All I know is that I don't feel like I'm a tare - and others who know me don't feel that way, etither. "By their fruits" - and I know I'm not poisoning anyone.

That's enough for me.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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Brian Johnston
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Re: Are we the wheat or the tares?

Post by Brian Johnston » 18 Jan 2010, 21:16

I prefer to see this parable in a personal and internal way. I don't like to think of some people as wheat and others as tares. Sorry, but I just don't like that all-or-nothing view of people.

Wheat and tares are growing inside each of our souls. When we make a harvest, perhaps call that a leap of growth, we harvest the wheat while we rip out the tares. It feels like something being ripped out when I have to drop my baggage, my incorrect and "cherished" expectations.
"It's strange to be here. The mystery never leaves you alone." -John O'Donohue, Anam Cara, speaking of experiencing life.

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just me
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Re: Are we the wheat or the tares?

Post by just me » 18 Jan 2010, 21:20

Brian Johnston wrote:I prefer to see this parable in a personal and internal way. I don't like to think of some people as wheat and others as tares. Sorry, but I just don't like that all-or-nothing view of people.

Wheat and tares are growing inside each of our souls. When we make a harvest, perhaps call that a leap of growth, we harvest the wheat while we rip out the tares. It feels like something being ripped out when I have to drop my baggage, my incorrect and "cherished" expectations.
I like!
Most of us, sooner or later, find that at critical points in our lives we must strike out on our own to make a path where none exists.~Elaine Pagels

Ultimately, you are the path-the path begins and ends with you.~Stephan Bodian

He who think he knows, doesn’t know: He who knows he doesn’t know, knows.~Sanskrit proverb

Poppyseed
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Joined: 19 Jul 2009, 15:44

Re: Are we the wheat or the tares?

Post by Poppyseed » 19 Jan 2010, 13:08

Brian Johnston wrote:I prefer to see this parable in a personal and internal way. I don't like to think of some people as wheat and others as tares. Sorry, but I just don't like that all-or-nothing view of people.

Wheat and tares are growing inside each of our souls. When we make a harvest, perhaps call that a leap of growth, we harvest the wheat while we rip out the tares. It feels like something being ripped out when I have to drop my baggage, my incorrect and "cherished" expectations.

Thank you, Brian. This is exactly how I feel about it too. I think at first when my friend asked me I felt little pangs of guilt but then I decided what you have expressed. That there is wheat and tares inside of all of us. Its just the deal. I am feeling like maybe the wheat is light/truth and the tares is the lies of Satan. It makes me think the garden is the church and inside of it are wheat and tares. It's interesting to me that the servant noticed the presence of the tares long before harvest time. I wonder sometimes about myself when I see something off or "wrong" in the church and I wonder if I'm like the servant that can see a bit of what Satan's been doing and how effective he is at confusing people and how he is able to sneak in his influences into our traditions. I know Satan has been successful at planting lies in my own thinking. Sometimes it feels obvious to me as I observe the beliefs of others. More than anything, I feel the wisdom of the Lord as he knows when its time to harvest. Maybe it is about the necessary opposition. Maybe its necessary for the opposition to be inside the church, though I think people fight against that idea. I am still pondering about why taking the tares out too soon might be harmful. I guess I thought weeding was part of what makes gardens flourish. But I think that this is helping me to come to terms with the imperfections in the church. Maybe its ok that the history has its problems or that the church leaders don't always get it right. Maybe God knows that overcorrecting the process of the church would be damaging. I don't know. The ability to discern seems the most vital element for the individual at least. OR maybe God's grace covers the misconceptions in our belief systems. Hm.
“Be not afraid of growing slowly; be afraid only of standing still.” --old Chinese proverb

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Brian Johnston
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Re: Are we the wheat or the tares?

Post by Brian Johnston » 19 Jan 2010, 13:45

I see the wheat as the productive, positive and nourishing plants that are growing within us. Tares take energy and nutrients from the soil, they consume our labor without producing nourishing food.

If you want to call this God and Satan, that's fine. It's another way of working the metaphor, one where we are torn between polar opposites.
"It's strange to be here. The mystery never leaves you alone." -John O'Donohue, Anam Cara, speaking of experiencing life.

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MapleLeaf
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Re: Are we the wheat or the tares?

Post by MapleLeaf » 19 Jan 2010, 22:57

To those who disagree that the wheat and tares refer to people, you gotta fill me in on how you interpret the rest of the parable.

If the wheat and tares represent the good and bad in all of us, then...

-Are we not supposed to purge the bad from our lives for fear that the good will go with it? (v 28-29)
-What is the "harvest", and why do we have to wait 'til then to deal with the negativity in our lives? Who are the "reapers" who get rid of the negativity? And what does it mean that the positivity is gathered into the barn? (v 30)

The parable only seems to make sense to me when interpreted as referring to people.
"If you wish to see the truth then hold no opinions for or against anything. To set up what you like against what you dislike is the disease of the mind." -Chien-chih Seng-ts'an, Zen Buddhist [606 AD]

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