Jersey Islanders had their first encounter with the Nazis on June 28, 1940. An air raid over St. Helier killed ten of their citizens and injured many others. Some time before this raid, the United Kingdom had demilitarized the Channel Islands. Unfortunately for the residents of Jersey, the UK had not revealed this demilitarization to the Nazis.
Otherwise the Germans would have not seen it necessary to send an air raid, and the lives of the Jersey Islanders would have been spared. It would have been easy for the Jersey residents to blame the deaths on the British government, but at the same time, the British hadn’t wanted the Nazis to think that they could freely overrun the British Channel Islands situated so close to France.
By December 1940, about 1,750 Nazis solders were placed in Jersey. Within a year, the number had multiplied more than six fold. There was, in fact, about one soldier for every four islanders. A bit of overkill, don’t you think?
The islanders were surprised at first by how nice the German soldiers were. They swarmed the Jersey stores, buying numerous presents for their families and themselves. Germany no longer had the luxury of having so many goods in one place! They felt like tourists and the Islanders were happy to have the extra income. In fact, it seemed that the Germans were truly a blessing.
Sooner or later however, these Jersey Islanders would eventually discover the truth about their enemy: Curfews were imposed, radios were confiscated and food would be reserved for the Nazi army.
It’s so much like what we experience at church. There are members who seem very friendly. They smile, and at times they are very helpful. But sooner or later, we discover they have quite a different agenda than loving others like Jesus did.
Jesus warned us about these in his parable found in Matthew 13:24-29. On the day that Jesus shared this parable with the crowd, He provided many parables, illustrations of what the Kingdom of God truly is like. One of them, however, stood out in the mind of his disciples: A sower went out and sowed good seed, but in the night, the enemy went out and sowed weeds among the wheat. The sower didn’t want to remove the weeds, however, because doing so would injure the wheat. His instruction was to wait until the harvest, and then the wheat and the weeds could be easily separated.
This parable seemed difficult for the disciples to grasp. What did it truly mean? (See Matt 13: 36)
Jesus’ explanation blew their mind, starting with the very fact that the sower was Jesus: “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man.” (Matt 13:37, NIV2)
The ones who sow hope in this world are sent from God Himself. They sow in the name of the Lord, without any thought of being remunerated. Anyone proclaiming hope in his or her own name is nothing but a fake. Even if they proclaim to have been sent by God Himself, they are nothing but a sham (See Acts 19: 13-26). The Good News, after all, is provided only by God. Who else would be willing to die for ungrateful humans so that they could find their way into the Kingdom of hope? It’s a message from God Himself.
Next we discover that the field is the world: “The field is the world” (Matt 13:38a, NIV2). The Good News is not reserved solely for the righteous; rather it is for everyone, young or old, rich or poor, sinners and criminals. All of us, no matter who we are, need hope!
Notice God sows good seeds, which refers to the people of the kingdom: “The good seed stands for the people of the kingdom.” (Matt 13:38b, NIV2). God’s only purpose is to bring the hopeless to the doors of His Kingdom, where hope is truly fulfilled.
In all reality, however, not everything is sparkling clean in this world’s assembly of believers. Some just don’t seem to fit in. Jesus revealed where they come from: “But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away.” (Matt 13:25, NIV2)
The subtle enemy will do anything in his power to throw a monkey wrench into God’s plans. He is, after all, a specialist in this: “The weeds are the people of the evil one,” (Matt 13:38c, NIV2)
The weeds that spring up in our congregations do not come from God, but from the evil one himself, who is trying to thwart the hope God provides, trying to bring doubt to all those in their surroundings. Their mission, even though often they are unaware of it, is devastation (See John 10:10). They are the ones who give us the reputation of being hypocrites.
What should be done? Next time we will discover the amazing conclusion to this dilemma. God, after all, has everything under control. We truly have nothing to worry about and because of Him, we are able to completely relax in His presence.
Those Nazis are sure friendly!
Are you so certain about that?
(To access the entire “Kingdom of Power” devotional series, please click here.)