“… no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins.”
Jesus said no one puts new cloth which hasn’t been shrunk on an old garment…and they don’t put new wine in old wineskin’s. The idea he’s getting across is one of FLEXIBILITY. In that day, garments weren’t as disposable as they are for us. If a tear was made in an outer coat they would patch it with another piece of material, but they had to have material that wasn’t going to shrink up over time (as cottons and wools are prone to doing). It had to be preshrunk or the patch would just shrink and tear the coat again.
Same with a wineskin. When they would bottle their wine, they would store it in flexible skins because as the new wine is fermenting, its going to expand and contract. If you have this kind of morphing liquid in an old leather skin that’s no longer flexible, that’s become brittle and unchanging… it will tear it.
Jesus is pointing out in this that there will be no cookie cutter religion when it comes to the kingdom of God!
We can end up looking at other fellowships, and how they go about doing their meetings or outreach and start measuring our community by their community…and you know…Jesus used this imagery of flexibility for this very reason because he didn’t want this kind of attitude of comparison to prevail.The kingdom of God at work in the church is going to have a variety of diff expressions! It’s going to change and flex and move in different ways.
Its not a rigid bottle…a rigid structure…it wont always look the same, it will change from age to age, from culture to culture…to meet an infinite variety of needs.
That’s why threre’s no description of what the meeting of the church should look like in the New Testament! There’s no order of service or formula of teaching or anything like that…that way…the church is always fluid. There’s structure of some kind (the wineskin implies that) but its flexible, ready to change, to grow to shrink to take on any shape to accommodate what the Holy Spirit is doing!
I’ve learned a lot of lessons along the way in trying to understand what God is doing here with this community called Eastgate…but one thing I learned very early on is that I can’t look at any other model or see what some other fellowship is doing and presume to think God wants to do that here. I tried that, several times, with very frustrating results.
I’ve learned to be content with flowing and flexing with what God is doing right here, right now, with us…and I’ve learned that it wont always look the same from day to day.
How cool is that?