Matthew 13:36-43 (ESV)
Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, "Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field."  He answered, "The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man.  The field is the world, and the good seed is the children of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one,  and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the close of the age, and the reapers are angels.  Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age.  The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers,  and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.
Jesus explains the parable of the weeds in the field. The field is the world. Sometimes and even I did the other day, it is thought of as the church as it is in the world. I don’t know that there needs to be much of a dichotomy there.
But here Jesus says it is the world. The wheat and the tares live in the world together. At the last day they will be separated out from each other. Too often the church has taken upon itself the task of the angels. They begin to try to force the world to live by its own morality, not for the sake of peace and order, but somehow get the world to do what the members of the church are often too weak to do themselves.
It shouldn’t be this way. The world needs law and order, and to that end God has ordained governments, and appointed earthly judges. This is not the role of the church. The church is not to use the state as its arm in enforcing morality. When there is need within its own membership to admonish sinners that is one thing. But we should not engage culture as a matter of law. We have to find better and more creative ways.
I do make an exception in this when it comes to abortion. But even there the church engages in such a manner as to show what a wonderful gift life is, and what joy life brings. We engage to protect life, and to honor it.
But then to often people in the name of Christ want to pass laws against smoking, or make it harder to buy a beer, shut down shopping on Sunday. Too often the Christians themselves have no joy for life, suffering under a heavy burden of law that Christ does not impose. They fear for their own salvation.
Who wants to join a church like that. Most know that they are sinners and can’t live up to these rules people impose on each other in the name of Christ. Why would anyone want to come and be miserable with you? Why would they want to join in your hypocrisy?
This is why it is so important to discinguish between Law and gospel. This is why Justification by Grace through faith alone on account of Christ alone is the doctrine upon which the church stands or falls. This is why it must be the forgiveness of sins that is emphasized in it’s preaching. Because in the forgiveness of sins is the gift of eternal life. And there with the gift of eternal life is joy. There is a joy and a peace the surpasses all understanding. And it is this the world needs. Not another blue law. We can no more sanctify our unbelieving neighbor with law than we can sanctify ourselves with it. But Christ comes and he sanctifies you and I with his gospel, even as he pours water over our heads, and gives us the Holy Spirit.