One of the most common questions people ask pastors is: “Why does God allow evil in the world?” There seem to be only two answers: either God is powerless to stop evil, or He doesn’t care. In last week’s Baptismal preparation class, the catechumens raised this issue, complaining that in the court hearings to determine whether Iranian applicants for asylum who have converted to Christianity are truly Christian–many questions asked by the judge are unduly difficult, sometimes even stumpers. “Doesn’t Jesus care?” I shared that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9), that He is always merciful and gracious (Psalm 86:15, etc.), and that He works all things for good for those called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). But our Lord offers yet another explanation for the conundrum of theodicy. In Matthew 13:24-30 He explains that He allows wheat (believers in Christ) and weeds (those who reject Him, sown by the Enemy) to grow side-by-side in His Kingdom. Now, if it were up to you and me, we would probably have no mercy on those weeds. “Rip out those unfair judges, the mullahs in Iran, the Putins of this world!” But as Swedish theologian Bo Giertz points out, if the weeds were ripped out at this time, that would also remove the opportunities they have to repent. Our Lord does not defeat evil by wiping it out on earth. He offers the weeds—and the wheat! — salvation by forgiving our sins, allowing us to repent and be born again. Amazingly, in Christ’s Kingdom, there is room for Hitler, the unfair judges, the mullahs, and the Putins—if only they would desire to come. And as God is patiently waiting for them to repent, you and I must also patiently live alongside them, sometimes suffering discrimination from them or—for some in the Middle East—even physical persecution and death. In the meantime, we persevere as we wait for the Last Day, when our Lord will separate the weeds from the wheat once and for all. (Picture taken and posted with attendees’ permission).