Build An Ark: Letters From the Ranch

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Fresh Wineskins
“Nor do men put new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wineskins burst,and the wine pours out, and the wineskins are ruined; but they put new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved.” Matthew 9:17

The entire Bible is one account after another of the eternal God stepping into the affairs of men and busting wide open our cultural and natural limitations. There is bound to be a clash when the Infinite invades the finite. He is always stretching us. Often the point at which this stretching occurs is in the area of compassion. This is one of the ways He opens the eyes of our understanding to see our need for Him.

The Pharisees couldn't handle the fact that Jesus would hang out with “sinners.” His disciples couldn't understand why Jesus would talk with a woman or take the time to be with children. Those in the synagogue couldn't bear to hear Jesus retell the story of how God’s compassion had been extended to the "despised" Gentiles (see Luke 4:23-30). Peter had to see the same vision three times before God was able to get through to him that the gospel was not just for the Jews. How many times have I found it difficult to reach out to someone who was different from me? To see him or her through the compassionate eyes of Jesus rather than my prejudice or self-righteous judgment?

Immediately before Jesus talked about wineskins, he said this: “But go and learn what this means, ‘I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:13) In other words God doesn't give a hoot about my religion if it fails to include loving other people and demonstrating to them the abundant mercy and compassion so freely extended to me in Jesus. And it is at this point where I will see my utter inability to do this. I must always seek to have the love of Jesus be perfected, ever increasing and maturing in me. If I'm putting limitations on how God can work, how He can use me, and to whom he can send me, my heart becomes like an inflexible “old wineskin” that will be unable to receive the “new wine” of His presence that is always bubbling, growing, expanding, and seeking to bring new life to thirsty souls. Jesus says, “…freely you received, freely give.” Matthew 10:8.

agape,
---john