“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, he pours new wine into new wineskins.” Mark 2: 21-22
This phrase was spoken by Jesus to the Pharisees who had just questioned him about why his disciples were not fasting, after all John’s disciples were fasting and so were the Pharisees…
Is it any coincidence that this incident was recorded right after Jesus had recruited Levi the tax collector into the disciple mix? Here was a guy, probably crooked as the day is long, selfish, dishonest, but God called him. He didn’t have this beautiful religious pedigree, he didn’t fast, didn’t hang out with righteous folk, but again, Jesus called him…Levi was a friend of sinners, he feasted with them…so why him? Couldn’t Jesus have used a wise scholar on his team to answer some of the crowd’s questions, back him up on his theology? No, he wanted Levi, and he dined with his friends, and he loved him. Was he part of some radical new plan?
As Christians, we have the tendency to get set in our ways: church on Wednesday nights, Sunday morning, Bible study, small group…the list goes on…would you say that we even become old and a bit crusty? A wee bit brittle, shall we say?
I’d like to take this wineskin analogy just a little bit further and say that past hurts can make us hard and bitter too, can’t they? They can eventually lead to cracks in our relationships too: “I can’t believe such and such still talks to so and so, don’t they know what they did?”or “Do you have any idea who they voted for? Ridiculous! They are single-handedly trying to ruin our country.”
We build up these walls, we say inwardly or outwardly, “You may go this far but no further.” and then we stop and we crack because something hurts and we can feel our bones and joints begin to stiffen and we harden ourselves to relationships that yes, can potentially hurt us, but may also be part of that glorious new fermenting process because when we let people in, we allow the potential for joy, for new experiences, for Love and that new wine that Christ has to offer. Christ, the fulfillment of the law.
And so I urge you, let your new creature begin to expand with joy, the kind that releases giggle gas. Stop trying to patch things up, applying sad little bits and pieces of new to the old way of thinking and acting–and allow His presence to seep in.
What new way of thinking or acting can you adopt this week?