A Problem of Wineskins

I think you and I have a problem with Jesus and new wine. At least, I do.

I’ve heard (and preached) dozens of sermons about the new wine of the Spirit, always ending in a call for revival. But a revival of what? Our old wineskin?

Too often the cry for revival is a plea for God to breathe life into a dead horse. The church is usually shocked and repelled by a genuine revival because it upsets old paradigms and invalidates old leadership. And it usually brings in a bunch of unsavory people.

But I think those “sinners” who sat at Matthew’s table in three gospels (Mark, Matthew and Luke) were the new wine Jesus was talking about.

Think about it. Those people already didn’t fit into the old wineskin of pharisaic religion. Jesus was taking the Kingdom of God to them as it had already left the building belonging to scribes and Pharisees.

Where you go, the Kingdom goes, because Jesus is in you. So, Jesus mostly gets to the people who need him most when you intentionally spend time with them. They are the new wine.

As to wineskins, when we begin to harvest new wine, we’ll need new wineskins to replace the brittle, preachy, data-driven, perfection equals excellence programs we’ve been offering.

I recently read a fascinating book called The Other Half of Church. It gets into the right-brain/left-brain argument and makes a lot of sense. Turns out that while our church efforts mostly focus on the left, and oh so logical, side of our brains, people mostly change when the art and music-loving, relationship-oriented right side of their brains are stimulated. You become like those people who offer you love and acceptance.

This would help us understand Acts 2:42-47 where stuff happened in the temple courts and in homes. In fact, they shared meals on a daily basis doing church things in tiny groups. Food in homes reminds me of Revelation 3 where Jesus promises to come and dine with us. The tagline to that Acts scenario is that they enjoyed favor with all the people (something sadly missed by today’s churches) and the Lord added to their number on a daily basis.

The upshot of all this is that the new wine is out there and not about to make its way into our old wineskins. The Kingdom needs to engage those most in need through you and me long before we even begin to think of fabricating new wineskins.

BTW, I’d really feel appreciated if you’d leave a comment for, or against, what I’ve written. I don’t get paid to do this other than comments and shares. So if you would…

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22 thoughts on “A Problem of Wineskins”

  1. Excellent article. I have been a leading ministry in my nation in terms of moving in supernatural power. Very quickly one realises pouring new wine of supernatural power into existing ‘wine skins’ of churches generally creates negative reactions from the very people who have prayed for revival. It turns out that it will always be revival on their terms and not bringing true freedom to hurt and broken people

    1. So true that the people who pray for revival seldom recognize it. History is replete with this. Jesus died for those new wine people who he ate and drank with at Matthew’s house.

  2. This is so refreshing and good. All of it. Yes, it is His kindness and mercy that lead to repentance and repentance is what we all need. Thank you for these wise notices to us, the church.

  3. William Smith

    from Bill after your plea for a comment I just had to respond
    as an old Howard Snyder fan of wineskins, I agree and appreciate the comments. Best insight from the article:

    You are the wine skin.
    already knew that new wineskins means bringing disreputable folks inside the community.

    Hoping it is not too long before we begin seeing some evidence of that revival, deeply convinced it is coming soon and equally convinced it will not look like any of the previous ones. Although many places could use a good revisit of the Asbury revival in One Divine Moment.

  4. “Where you go, the Kingdom goes, because Jesus is in you. So, Jesus mostly gets to the people who need him most when you intentionally spend time with them. THEY are the new wine.”

    The measure of how much we make the Kingdom of Heaven AND the hope for new wine about ourselves is disturbing. Even the way we pray for a reviving work is often self-focused (that is part of it, but not all).

    “Intentional” hits home with me as well! We are consistently around people…but are we intentionally present? This is a value we consistently bring in front of our church family.

  5. I keep coming back to this post. It seems to string several important thoughts together for where I’m at. It’s affirming a particular course of action too (sorry no details – confidential)
    Thank you.

  6. I quoted you on FB. ” You become like those people who offer you love and acceptance.”
    I love reading your blogs.

    1. Thanks Robbie,
      I’m flattered that you would quote me. But also need to confess that the phrase, “love, acceptance and forgiveness” is the title of a great book written by one of my mentors, Jerry Cook. I helped Jerry when he launched with 27 people during my freshman summer home from college. The church grew into the thousands because Jerry practiced love, acceptance and forgiveness. The phrase became a Hope Chapel mantra which we lived by. If you can find the book on Amazon its still a great read!
      Ralph

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