We Need Both
Luke 5:36 He also told them a parable: “No one tears a piece from a new garment and sews it on an old garment; otherwise the new will be torn, and the piece from the new will not match the old.
Luke 5:37 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed.
Luke 5:38 But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins.
Luke 5:39 And no one after drinking old wine desires new wine, but says, ‘The old is good.’”
With the presence of Jesus Christ on earth things were different. His presence meant radical changes to the Jew's understanding of worship practices. The religious leaders couldn't understand why Jesus' disciples didn't pray and fast on the right days! But, why should they -- the one for whom they were praying and fasting was right there in their midst. And now suddenly there was what had been -- and what would be -- right in their midst and they wondered how those two would go together. Jesus shared with them this parable which I believe can help us see the need of the old and the new -- in the right proportions.
The ushering in of the kingdom was like a new garment. The new was just that -- the new, and pieces of it were not torn away or used to patch the old system. Instead if a new garment needs to be strengthened or if there is a hole, you take the old and find the best part and use it to patch up, or strengthen the new. At the same time when you made wine you had to put it into new skins so that as the wine fermented so the skins would stretch and not burst. But there was something fine about the old wine -- it was good!
I think about this shift that we are currently facing in Christianity and it is a period of stretching. There is this constant tug and pull between how we have done things and how we will do things in the future. If we listen to what Jesus is saying, there is a place for both but the emphasis is on the pull into the future which comes to us from God, and not a harkening back to the "good old days." The new may need to be firmed up and patched up from time to time with the things from the past -- but we can't tear up the new and use it to patch the past -- and I'm afraid that's what too many of us are trying to do. Instead of embracing where we are going with Jesus, we are holding onto the clothing of the past and we think it looks good if we cut up some of the new and patch it into our old duds. The problem is that old fabric begins to weaken and deteriorate and eventually will fall apart into a pile of patches. While it may be painful we need to embrace where Jesus is taking us and move forward with him.
As we move forward with Jesus we must remember to bring the best of the past with us. New wine -- I've heard -- is not very good, and often new and young believers are simply not very mature. They need the space of new wineskins so that they can stretch and grow but they are not yet ready to be poured out and used because they are simply too immature. But those who have been soaking in the presence of Jesus for years and years -- they have something to offer everyone that is beautiful and satisfying. Use the wine in the old wineskins -- for they have a wisdom and depth of relationship with Jesus that is beyond anything that the younger ones would understand.
We really do need both! We need the new and we must embrace what Jesus has in store for us and not be afraid of the future into which he is drawing us -- while at the same time we must appreciate the best of the past and build upon it. We are all better and stronger when we are together. We can't allow our differences to tear us apart, because that's the desire of the enemy. Jesus understood that and so must we.
Might I encourage us today to reach out a hand across the generations and lift our hearts together in praise to the Jesus we love! We are better together.
Lord, thank you for the joy of being together with your people. Amen.