Weeds or Wheat
I grew up in northwestern Pennsylvania where my father grew a marvelous garden every year. I helped make it marvelous by spending many hours pulling weeds. I once pulled a number of young string beans before my father let me know in no uncertain terms, "Those aren't weeds, they're beans." Sometimes it was hard to tell the weeds from the wheat.
How do you tell those who are Christians from those who pretend to be Christians or from those who aren't Christians? I believe it is the greatest problem facing the church today. The church has been infiltrated by non-Christians. The enemy certainly realizes the advantage of mixing the weeds with the wheat. Jesus knew Satan's strategy and addressed it in the 13th chapter of Matthew. "While everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. The owner's servants asked, 'Where did the weeds come from?'. 'An enemy did this,' the master replied. 'Do you want us to pull them up,' they asked. 'No,' he replied, 'because if you pull up the weeds you may very well uproot some of the wheat.'"
It's interesting that Christ put a damper on their idea of pulling up the weeds (non-Christians). Because judgment falls under the authority of Christ alone he told them that the time for separation will surely come but that time has not yet arrived. He instructed them not to separate them but he certainly was promoting the idea of identifying them. The failure to distinguish between Christians and non-Christians is a problem that is destroying the church today. The fear of being offensive or of being discriminatory has crept deep into the church. Christians are not offensive because of an obnoxious attitude or because they feel they are better than others. They are offensive because they live the truth of the gospel. Christ warned that those who spoke truth and lived truth would be hated by the world. (John 15:18-19) "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you."
It is very common for people to claim to be Christians today. 80% of Americans make this claim. If this country were 80% Christian we would have turned the world upside-down long ago. Some believe they are Christians simply because they believe in Jesus. Satan and his imps believe strongly in Jesus. Some believe they can earn Christianity by attending church every Sunday morning. Some have had a "feel good" experience in their past upon which they build a 'Christian' testimony.
Miley Cyrus interviewed for a popular magazine recently, "I went to a church camp every summer and I got saved there when I was seven. … I was in my cabin one day, and I just felt happy and I was thinking about Jesus…" I wouldn't know where Miley stands with Christ but I know a "feel good" experience does not necessarily make one a Christian. The question to be asked should not be 'have you had an emotional experience?' but 'what are you doing with your life now?' What sort of life are you living? Is there evidence that your life has been radically changed?
Jesus taught that "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other." (Matthew 6:24) We will either be a friend of God or a friend of the world but we can't be both. We must be careful when distinguishing between Christian and non-Christian but distinguish we must. No one convinces another that he is a Christian simply by a solitary trip to an altar or an experience in the baptistery. When Jesus said, "By their fruit you will recognize them…" (Matt. 7:16) he was referring to their daily walk.