“Lord give me an undivided heart…” I find myself praying with the psalmist that I might worship God alone, not commit the idolatry of trying to worship God and my own comfort. I find myself praying that I might possess love alone, not love diluted by judgement of self or anyone else. I wonder if that kind of undivided love and undivided worship might be the same thing? Hoping to find my way out of what I interpret as humanity’s “original” and most destructive sin, I change the psalmist’s adjective “undivided” into the verb un-dividing. “Lord, give me an un-dividing heart.” A heart not willing to divide people into categories of “good” or “evil”, “worthy” or “unworthy.” For I believe this dualism prevents us from truly worshipping the one who created all. I think this is why Jesus, the Lord of the harvest, tells the workers to cease and desist. “You can’t tell the weeds from the wheat. Stop! In your zeal you will destroy both. You will surely hurt other people, but the life most uprooted will be your own.”
Trying to identify “the weeds” robs us of wholeness. Rather than giving us the justification we desire, our constant judgement of others makes us more unsure of our own identity. What we see and criticize in others often only intensifies our own self-doubt as we are forced to deal with “the weeds” we would rather not see in our own lives. Obsessing over “the weeds” also prevents our own lives from growing and blossoming. Instead of being grounded and reaching upward, we grow sideways pointing at the other plants, eventually becoming as warped as we think they are.
Caught up in our toxic patterns of “dividing” and judging, we often take the next illogical step of thinking that we are the ones tasked with pulling “the weeds.” We exclude. We ignore. We shun. And shamefully, we do so in the name of Jesus.
What reasoning, even in the realm of parabolic analogy, makes us think our role could be both wheat and weed puller? How is it that we can believe that we have that kind of divine wisdom, authority, or responsibility? Anytime we do this we are forgetting our role in the story. We are playing God…and not very well.
So what is God really like?
On a warm spring morning, a man surveys the green expanse of his back yard. After hours of tilling, fertilizing, and watering, he can’t help but be exasperated at the weeds sprouting up in his otherwise perfect lawn. As he contemplates a morning of pulling each and every alien plant out by the roots, he’s interrupted by a little girl’s laughter.
He shouts, “Stop! Don’t do that! If you blow on that dandelion they’ll spread all over the yard! That’s a weed!”
“No, Daddy!” his daughter cries,”It’s a flower!”
After a few minutes of gentle debate, the little girl finally says, “I don’t care if it’s a weed…It’s so pretty!” and resumes her giggling and twirling around in clouds of fleecy, airborne, dandelion petals.
Is the God you worship like the anxious man futilely attempting to eradicate every single weed? Or is your God like the little girl dancing around, understanding that the dandelions are technically “weeds”, but delighting in them just the same?
Anne Lamott writes, “You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”
Even when our judgements don’t reach the point we would call “hate”, I believe you can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out God judges all the people you judge ( yourself included) in all the same ways you do.
I ‘m done trying to pull weeds. I don’t have the time or energy for that and even if I did, without the weeds I would’t have much left to call a yard…