An Ode to Weeds


They are uninvited. They show up in the cracks of parking lots, grow through ornamental bushes, sprout through mulch, and cover fields.  They green with the grass, grow tall with the trees, and reap a bumper crop of allergies.

Weeds mean work.

Weeds have to be pulled, sprayed, dug up, and cut back. They are thrown into compost heaps, put out with the trash, and dumped into yard waste bins. No one wants weeds. When weeds began showing up around the church grounds, people began showing up to remove them. Some of you sprayed, others pulled, a few cut, and others dug. We thank you. I thank you. Your time spent mowing and weeding helped to maintain our church grounds as an inviting, worshipful place.

If the summer has left you tired of weeds, it might to know that Bible shares your fatigue: Hosea likens weeds to litigation. (Hosea 10:4) Zephaniah has them growing in a wasteland. (Zephaniah 2:9) In one of Jesus’ parables weeds are what an enemy sows weeds in a wheat field. (Matthew 13:25) The book of Proverbs uses weeds as an object lesson on foolishness. (Proverbs 24:31)

But, not every weed gets bad press.

Take mustard, for instance.

People like mustard. People grow mustard.  Pliny the Elder even touted mustard as a health food, before he said, “It grows entirely wild; but… when it has once been sown, it is scarcely possible to get the place free of it…” If that sounds like a few weeds you’ve pulled, you’re not alone. Mustard, says one writer, is “a malignant weed.”

And yet, mustard is the plant Jesus uses in one his most memorable parables:

The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.

And that, Jesus says, is how God works. (Matthew 13:31)

Just as a dandelion’s deep taproot brings up nutrients from the soil that benefit plants with weaker or shallower roots, so the Spirit strengthen us with in our inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. (Ephesians 1:16)

Just as clover helps other plants to grow by returning nitrogen to the soil, so our character, faith, and hope grows in us by the love the Spirit of God pouts into our hearts. (Romans 5:3-4)

Just as a tiny seed grows up to be a tree of life, so one of moment of faith grows up in us to heal our souls, comfort our hearts, and fix our eyes on Christ.