2020-06-19 Out with the Old, In with the New
Part 3 - New Wineskin Acting
Originally published on 2012-06-07
New wineskin acting is all about knowing how to avoid old wine thinking. I would like to share with you three steps you can take to do this.
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.
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 Coca-Cola – not Pepsi, RC, or Big K but Coca-Cola. 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 away.
"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 into 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 denominational 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 world.
Lastly we must seek balance. You and I can ask the Holy Spirit for the right balance. 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 don’t 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 better.
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 and ineffective things?
All scripture references from KJV unless otherwise noted.
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