New wine, new wineskins

The speaker in the video was addressing change in the Church, speaking about leadership somewhat critically. About 10 minutes in I turned the presentation off, surprised at my reaction. I felt defensive, even angry.  The why of that response would not leave my thoughts for the rest of the evening. In my reflection I began to understand that part of what was going in somewhere deep inside of me was a resistance to changes in the world that were beyond my control.

Keeping up with change is hard for many people and perhaps even more difficult for those of us who are in the last quarter of life! Intellectually I know that everything must change or die, that each generation questions the previous generation, sorting through values, methods, ideas – discarding some, building on others, cherishing a few! 

So what does that have to do with our walk with Jesus?  Much in every way, my friend.

Jesus faced intense opposition when He spoke of His Kingdom to come! The Jews cherished their traditions and knew that His message would bring an end to the world they knew. They went beyond rejecting His message. They hated Him, seeking His death. He explained His work with this parable. “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” (Matthew 9:16-17, NIV)  What did it mean?

Over several centuries Judaism had built an elaborate ritual structure, a way of life that was defined by 613 rules that interpreted the Law of Moses for the Jewish people with the aim of making them acceptable to God.  Jesus declared that He had come to fulfill that aim of making a holy people, but in a new way, built on the old patterns of holy lives but in a new structure. The ‘new wine’ of the Gospel and Spirit would not fit inside the rules, nor even within the Jewish people. God’s invitation was to be offered to the whole world. It was a radical message!

God would build the Church to declare His praise and to be the messenger of His desire to reconcile humanity to Himself. The moment of change was decisive; at the crucifixion when the Temple veil ripped in two; sealed by the Resurrected Lord’s appearance on that first Easter morning! But, conflict dogged the church for nearly a century when the ritual laws of the Jews were replaced with the glorious Gospel of the Crucified Lamb of God, Savior of the World.

I am praying for the renewal of God’s Church. Question is, am I ready to follow the Spirit’s lead into the future? It is a question for each one of who seriously wants to know the Lord. Will we allow God to pour out His Spirit into our hearts made new, or will we try to force Him to use old ways and forms with which we are comfortable? Will we adapt gladly and readily to new methods, allowing structures and forms created over many years to be changed?

The Gospel does not change. Christ’s gift of salvation is fixed in His gift of grace purchased at the expense of His death. The hope of eternal life has been, is, and will always be guaranteed by the Resurrection. But, how we know Jesus, the ways in which we worship and serve Him will surely change, again, as they have through the centuries since He walked on this earth.

Each of us will grow, adapt, and learn to love and follow Him in different ways throughout our lives. We must let go of the past that holds us captive to regret, celebrate former glories without trying to recapture them, and anticipate, with great faith, that our eternal God will refresh our relationship with Jesus Christ, “the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8, NIV)

Here is a word from the Word. “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:18-19, NIV)  O Lord, settle our hearts in You, lead us by Your Spirit to make Your Name glorious.

Glorious Day

I was buried beneath my shame
Who could carry that kind of weight
It was my tomb ’til I met You

I was breathing but not alive
All my failures I tried to hide
It was my tomb ’til I met You

You called my name (and)
I ran out of that grave
Out of the darkness into Your glorious day

Now Your mercy has saved my soul
Now Your freedom is all that I know
The old made new
Jesus when I met You

You called my name (and)
I ran out of that grave
Out of the darkness into Your glorious day

I needed rescue my sin was heavy
But chains break at the weight of Your glory
I needed shelter I was an orphan
Now You call me a citizen of Heaven
When I was broken You were my healing
Now Your love is the air that I’m breathing
I have a future my eyes are open

Jason Ingram | Jonathan Smith | Kristian Stanfill | Sean Curran

© 2017 Kristian Stanfill Publishing Designee (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

sixsteps Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

CCLI License # 810055

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