A Christian Science perspective: Agricultural harvest can teach us about the 'harvesting' of ideas.

Andy Nelson / The Christian Science Monitor
Wheat nears harvest condition in a field near Lebanon, Kansas.

Autumn is a joyful, expectant time of year. Sultry summer weather turns into crisp cool days with deep blue skies and autumn colors. It’s harvesttime – a time to reap the reward of months of planning, research, sowing, and nurturing. It’s also a time of gratitude for rewards received, to take stock of lessons learned, and to apply newfound understanding to planning the next season.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus offers an example of how agricultural harvest can teach us an important lesson about the “harvesting” of ideas.

In his parable of the tares and the wheat (see Matthew 13:24-30), Jesus told the story of a householder who sowed good seed in his field with the full expectancy of a good harvest. But while he slept, an enemy came onto his land and sowed “tares” in the wheat field. Bible scholars believe tares to be a grasslike weed called bearded darnel, which, to the untrained eye, looks very much like wheat.

When the householder’s servants discovered the tares, they asked if they should go into the field right away and pull up the tares. The wise householder instructed them to wait until the harvest to avoid uprooting the wheat until it had reached its peak. Then, the tares and the wheat could be separated. The tares could be burned, and the wheat put into the barn.

As in all his parables, Jesus taught a useful and timeless lesson. Everyone is confronted with periodic “harvest” opportunities when it comes to separating matter-based, destructive, evil thoughts from Spirit-based, good, productive thoughts. Workplace relationships, family issues, financial concerns, and even the need for physical healing are some of the opportunities every person has to separate the tares (evil-based fear, sin, anger, discouragement) from the wheat (God-based good, productive, loving ideas) in our own thinking. Often, the tares in our thinking have been rooting themselves over time, and we may hardly be aware of them. At other times they grow to so dominate our thinking that they take all our mental “bandwidth,” choking out clear thinking and useful and good ideas.

Yet, even the hidden tares eventually become visible to us, presenting harvesting opportunities to separate – to eliminate the evil and nurture the good. 

In the Christian Science textbook, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” Mary Baker Eddy, who founded The Christian Science Monitor, writes: “The temporal and unreal never touch the eternal and real. The mutable and imperfect never touch the immutable and perfect. The inharmonious and self-destructive never touch the harmonious and self-existent. These opposite qualities are the tares and wheat, which never really mingle, though (to mortal sight) they grow side by side until the harvest; then, Science separates the wheat from the tares, through the realization of God as ever present and of man as reflecting the divine likeness” (p. 300).

When we obey the First Commandment, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me,” putting God first in our thoughts, words, and deeds, even in the minutest of daily affairs, we resonate with the good, useful ideas that God is constantly pouring out to us. When we sow only God’s good productive ideas in our consciousness, we leave no room for tares to propagate and grow, and we will reap the full rewards of our efforts. Our harvest of goodness will bless not only us, but all who cross our path.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

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