There was a couple getting ready to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. They were digging through boxes of picture in the attic when the woman came across her wedding dress, and he his old army uniform. They snatched them up and headed for the bedroom. As the both try to wiggle into them it’s very apparent they will never make it. They catch sight of themselves in the mirror and begin to laugh so hard that soon the whole family is in on it. Their present life just will not fit into their old clothes.
We like old things, the old quilt, our well worn jeans, our old chair that should have been thrown away long ago. They make us feel comfortable and connected with our past. There is a sense of security in them. And it can be the same in life.
This parable has much to say about trying to fit our new life in Christ into our old way of thinking and living.
This parable about Cloth and wine is given to the disciples of John and to the Pharisees in response about fasting. Fasting was a practice of devout Jews. Apparently Jesus did not push His followers to fast. The new wine is faith in Jesus, the old wine skin was the Jewish system of religion.
One of the things that will not fit is grace. The Jewish religions tow the line or pay the price. Has no room for forgiveness. Obedience of the rules is all they have, and while obedience is important, there must be room for forgiveness. Jesus is teaching that God forgives, God heals, and God renews those who have fallen or strayed.
Another thing that will not fit is relationship. The Jew related to God through the rules and rituals of religion. Jesus related to God personally. The followers of Jesus learned that they could talk to God, both listening and hearing. He taught them that God knew and cared about their personal struggles in life. He taught them that God knew their name who they are and loved them personally. God was not a distant and detached ruler, He is a close friend.
Amy has a husband who abuses her. For ten years she has been beaten, physically and verbally. Amy lives in a constant state of fear. The only time she feels good is when he is at work. Despite all the trips to the hospital and visits from police, she keeps going back to her husband.
Don’t shake your head at her, for we are all like her in some ways. We will go back to that drinking that has destroyed our life. We go back to the same way of treating people though it has ruined all our friendships. We return to the same habits with our spouse even though they have destroyed our first two marriages.
Even though we repent and are forgiven by Jesus we try and take that new grace right back into our old life where it will never fit. We try to fit our relationship to God back into a system of does and don’ts that will never take the place of a God who personally loves us.
The Bible teaches us “That if anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation, the old has passed away and a new life has come.”
Faith is not about fitting Jesus into or attached to our old life style and values. Faith is about taking up the new life Jesus has given and leaving the old life that has done us so wrong behind.
Have you been trying to fit your faith into that old life sewing that old piece of cloth on only to have your life torn apart time and time again?
It’s time as a person and as a church that we drop that old life behind and live the new life Jesus has given us.