Saturday, July 24, 2004

Thinx 7: Luke 5:36

Jesus' parable finds its meaning from the context: calling sinners to repentance and feasting while the bridegroom is present. What are the old cloth and the new cloth? What are the old wineskins and the new wine? In v33 Jesus seems to be saying that the Jews religious laws and customs, wherein they differ from God's original intent, are the old cloth and the old wineskins. v33 seems to imply that fasting and praying were for the Jews ends is themselves -- something that religious people did as a sign of their religiousness. "John's disciples do it; the Pharisees disciples do it; why don't you?" Because the old cloth has holes but isn't holy. It's too late to attempt repair of the old system -- it would destroy the new and the patch wouldn't match and would be obvious to all as a patch. It's time to let go of the old; it's time to put on the new cloth and put the new wine in fresh wineskins. Putting the new wine in old wineskins -- the righteous man living by faith into the religious forms of the Pharisees -- won't work. These religious forms do not have the required flexibility. A religious form is required; a container is required for the new wine but a new, more flexible one, not the old, now inflexibie one.

There's a strong tendency for younger people to look at the religious forms of older people and take up a position against it. Maybe it's not just the young ...

There has been a pattern down through history of people looking at the prevailing religious forms, finding some fault therein, and seeking either reformation or removal in favour of a perceived "better way". These verses about old cloth/new cloth and new wine/old wineskins have often been quoted in favour of the upstarts against the establishment. When Protestantism could not reform Catholicism, it styled the other as old wineskins. Nowadays, as each generation of young people come through the church, they style the establishment with its "old" hymns and quiet perseverance in the old wineskins and their own choruses and lively worship service as the fresh wineskins into which God is pouring the new wine. Their perception of the older generation reflects the prevailing culture of our day -- old is bad; new is good. Out with the old, no matter what wisdom is lost in the process, and in with the new, no matter what the lack of wisdom and maturity may bring.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi bruce cam beeck here - thought i would be the first "commenter".

I agree with your sentiments that the old (in this day and age only the previous or so generation)has alot to offer, in respect to wisdom and experience. To often in our church body we don't interact enough between groups for the wisdom to flow down to the younger people and for the enthusiasm and energy to flow up to the oldies. Both are important - people who interact with different age groups are better of for it.

This being said though - i think it is important to keep making "new wine". In some church cases people have the view that old is right (due to their experience) and new is just misguided enthusiasm. It is important to keep to oldies inspired with new things and to keep them contemporary and in touch with society, otherwise we end up with a fragment church culture which doesn't seem relevant to societies culture. The Psalms tell us to sing a new song and i think God appreciates us expressing our worship in new ways and in contempory ways. I have the view that worship should be contempory, music, prayer, living otherwise we just end up in a irrelevant religous clique.
We mustn't get comfortable with our church culture - it is never perfect and therefore we can always afford to add to it and remove from it for the better. But it must be for that reason. Only remove when there it good reason and only add when it will enhance the church. We must carefully choose our new wine and make use of the old wineskins.