Know the Basics
First you must know the basics that is to say you must separate the content
from the container, wine from wineskins. Whether it is a "contemporary" Assembly
of God, "Southern gospel" Baptist, "pipe organ" Wesleyan, or "no instrument"
Nazarene church doesn't matter as long as they all teach the essential truth
- Jesus is God; He came to earth, died for our sin and rose the third day.
The wineskin was the religious system of Israel. The wine was the presence
of God. The old wineskin involved keeping of the law for righteousness and
the new wineskin was salvation by faith. Both contained the presence of God.
Both ritual and grace work to house the same thing God. God is the
content. Jesus came to change the container. The Law could not adequately
hold God's love.
When I order a Coke at a restaurant I do not give any thought to whether
I will get a glass, plastic, Styrofoam, or paper cup. I only want to make
sure that I get genuine Coke not Pepsi, RC, or Big K but Coke. As
long as we get the genuine one and only true God the container he is presented
in should not matter either.
Examine the Basis
Once you know the basics, you must examine the basis of your own positions
and of others positions.
In examining your own positions, do you believe/do something because it's
how you've always done it or have you thought about it and examined it?
Let me share a story about the guy that gets married. After the honeymoon,
his wife decides to fix his favorite meal, pot roast with all the trimmings.
He carefully watches her. She cuts ¼ of the roast off and throws it
"Why? What are you doing?" He asks.
"That's the way you're supposed to do it. Ask my mom."
So he does and he gets the same answer from her, "That's the way you're supposed
to do it. Ask my mom."
And so he does. His wife's grandmother just bursts in to laughter. Finally
she smiles and says, "I had to cut a quarter of it off because we never could
afford a pot large enough to hold the roasts the butcher gave us and we didn't
have a way to refrigerate what I couldn't cook right away."
Cutting the end off made sense at the time but became a meaningless, useless,
wasteful practice for later generations. Tradition for the sake of tradition
makes the same mistakes.
Leviticus 23:37 and Numbers 29:7 both indicate that Jews were to fast annually
on the Day of Atonement. But someone thought twice each week would help them
grow closer to God. That person may have picked the second and fifth day
because Moses went up on the second and came down on fifth. Generations later,
fasting was a requirement to be a good Jew. It was originally helpful to
those who started it but it was now a meaningless tradition of Pharisees
that only burdened people. Many of the Jews would make themselves look poorly
to show off their fasting going further away from God rather than closer
by filling up with pride.
Don't accept tradition as "gospel" just because it is traditional but don't
reject it for that reason either. Tradition is not inherently bad. "Homecoming"
is a great tradition enjoyed at many churches. At one church I've attended,
we changed homecoming to align with our anniversary and that caused a big
ruckus. But anything with food at anytime can't be too bad, amen?
Advent is also a good tradition. It helps my family draw closer to Christ
instead of being consumed by commercialism during the Christmas season. It
is a good tradition because it helps my family not because others have always
done it though.
As I said earlier, we must also examine the basis of other's positions. Be
sure to use the right filter scripture not personal preference or
denomination background. You and I don't set the standard God does.
There is no scripture for Sunday evening services, pulpit placement, or carpet
color but there are churches that have split over such things. How ridiculous
can we get? Is it no wonder that we've lost our effective witness with the
Lastly we must seek balance. You and I can ask the Holy Spirit for the right
Don't automatically think "old is good; new is bad" or vice versa. How does
the church balance a changeless message in an ever changing culture? Old
wineskins aren't flexible so we must be flexible. The old was brittle and
fragile. We must wear God's love at our fingertips but not our hearts on
our sleeves. The old wineskin was good in its day but the new is needed now.
The old is not bad but we dont want to ruin it using it too long.
Are you packaging God in new ways or the same old ones? Is this church flexible
soft and ready to be used by God? Are you personally flexible and ready to
be used by God? What God did yesterday is good but his plans for today are
Justin scoots all over the place. This is great but if he decides scooting
on his butt is the end all be all, he'll never get to walk. It is great that
this church has been in the community for 100 plus years now but is it in
the community this year?
If you look at a Wheaties box today it doesn't have Bruce Jenner or Mary
Lou Retton on it anymore. For the same effect now it needs Michael Phelps
or Matt Ryan on the box. But it is the same Wheaties in the box.
Each of you like the way things are done at your church or you wouldn't have
joined, but is your comfort keeping new wine from being made? Do our church
traditions keep God from using us in our city? Does our church do stuff because
it always has done them or do we regularly try new things and eliminate old