When a new wineskin is not enough

Wineskin
Photo credit  KOREphotos (Creative Commons)

Jesus said that new wine needs new wineskins (Luke 5:36-40). A new wineskin is only needed if there is new wine. If simple/organic church is like a new wineskin, what is the new wine? Is there something about the life we have together in Christ that needs a new container, that would burst an old wineskin?

This is part of a series on how to start simple/organic/house churches.  Changing the structure of church gains nothing unless it is a response to something that Jesus is doing which wouldn't be easy to contain within the old structures. (If you read the story in Luke 5 carefully, it is obvious that Jesus cares about the old structures and the old wine too.) There's no point in doing church as we've always known it within the four walls of our homes rather than in a special building.

Many people take Matthew 18:18-20 as the basic building block of church.

Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.  For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them (KJV).

Jesus "in the midst" is what church is all about. An individual has Jesus within. Corporately, we have Jesus among us. 

People often contact us: "We'd like to get to know you and learn from you."

We look forward to such times. But what sometimes happens is that they start talking to us as soon as they arrive and barely pause for breath the entire time they are here. They have not listened to us; they have not gotten to know us.

Church can be that way–even house church. We have our time together all planned out. We sing songs, pray, fellowship, learn from the Word. But there's no pause to listen to Jesus. The fact that Jesus is in the midst of us barely registers.

The Christian walk is all about relationship with Jesus. John 17:3 says,  And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

We know about personal intimacy with Christ, but there can be a corporate intimacy, too, when as a body of his disciples, we develop a deeper and more intimate relationship with Jesus.  When everything we do, including mission, including our times together, is a response to what Jesus says to us, that's the new wine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 thoughts on “When a new wineskin is not enough”

  1. For me, this post highlights the most important thing of all. Don’t miss it!
    We really do need to listen. We desperately need to listen to one another, and we need to listen to the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of Truth even more desperately.
    I truly believe lack of listening is one of the stumbling blocks we face in our lives as we work hard to follow Jesus. And that’s the problem. We can’t follow Jesus by working hard (doing what we think is best) but only by obedience (doing what He thinks is best).
    So we need to listen first so that we can obey.
    What elements of listening jump out at you from the brief reports of meetings in the following link? – http://jesus.scilla.org.uk/search/label/meeting
    Can you find some? If so what are they? Are you regularly hearing from Jesus amongs you as you meet? If not, why not?

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  2. I know from my blog stats that a few people have followed the link in the previous reply. But nobody has commented.
    Here are a few of the things I was hoping would come out.
    – Father’s timing is more important than our timing.
    – He can nudge us into doing practical things such as giving someone a particular book. Sometimes he may encourage us in what we have heard by things others say or do.
    – He may give us pictures that make a point clear.
    – He will work through traditional and non-traditional church, he only requires that his followers meet and expect him to take charge.
    – We need to be planted in Jesus, very firmly planted and rooted in him. Obedience will follow without fuss or bother.
    – He prepares in advance for us.
    There’s more! But these are encouraging beginnings, particularly when they’re shared in the context of the body meeting together in expectation. They’re accessible to everyone – meet and expect!

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  3. I would say two things.-
    1) Without faith, it is impossible to please God.
    2) Faith comes from hearing the word of the Lord.
    Therefore if we invest no time or effort into actually hearing God, hearing his voice, and then responding, then how can we possibly please God in what we do?
    Without discerning what the will of God is for us, we inevitably resort to our Tree of Knowledge of ALL THINGS ABOUT GOD.
    We are left trying to make the bible into a rule book for Christianity, which we can all live by without reference to the writer.
    This is how churches, including house churches, build wood, hay, and stubble, whilst all the time believing that they build the kingdom.
    The most crucial fact of being a Christian has to be the ongoing experience of discerning the voice or direction of God for our life. Without it Christianity is just a dead religion.

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  4. Well said, Frank. You summed up the truth extremely well in that reply.
    Listen and obey trumps follow the rules! Who, having read a great book, wouldn’t wish for an opportunity to sit and listen to the author? 🙂

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  5. Chris and Frank, you are both spot on! I have become increasingly convinced that listening to the Lord is going to be key to whatever it is the Holy Spirit does next. As we learn to listen and follow in the little things (like passing a book on to someone) then he will trust us with bigger things.

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