Today I want to share several statements that have rocked my worldview over the years. They have changed the way I have navigated life and ministry. Each of these statements all say pretty much the same thing. I think the original thought comes from Jesus:
“No one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost and the skins as well; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.”(Mark 2:22)
Jesus was a master of metaphor (and of much more!). This is simply an amazing use of a word picture. The setting was that Jesus was being criticized for His choice of a leadership team. His disciples did not come from the ranks of the educated, powerful, or insiders. They were basically hillbillies, fishermen, and tax collectors. Jesus picked people who were willing to embrace the changes He would bring. He picked people not blindly loyal to legacy and tradition. Not because tradition is wrong in itself. It’s only wrong if it hinders people from experiencing the new life that Jesus came to impart. So here’s the next statement:
“Life begs for structure; but structure never begs for life.”
I have no idea where this statement originated. But I have never forgotten it. This is just another way of saying what Jesus said above. For example, after grapes have been crushed and the juice left to age, the fermentation process begins. Which means there is an expansion. The fermenting wine demands a change of structure around it. If the structure is NOT willing to adjust, you will have a tear or break and a mess to clean up.
Here’s another example. Life erupts at the point of the conception of a human embryo. The embryonic being begins to speedily multiply cells and structures at an amazing pace. All kinds of structures (skeletal, arterial, nervous, etc) begin to mass produce to keep up with the blossoming human life.
Yes, where life is multiplying, structures must emerge and keep in step with the life expression. But if you exhumed all the graves of recent decades in the cemetery you will find a common denominator – regardless of the age, race, gender, education, or social status of the deceased. The life is not only gone, but most of the cells have to one degree or another gone back to the dust. There is usually just the skeletal remains. Life begs for structure, but when life is gone the structures seem to be content to hang around long after! They never beg for life.
The third quote is also very similar:
“When your memories exceed your dreams the end is near.” Chuck Bentley, President of Crown Ministries
Museums certainly have their place. History is important. Someone said that those who don’t know their history are destined to repeat it! There is so much to learn from that (and those) which went before us. We can and should remember and even celebrate their accomplishments. But if we are not careful we will fail to understand the essence of life that animated their accomplishments! Another memorable quote is pushing up in my memories just now:
“Pharisees are those who delight in what God did in the past but persecute what He is doing in the present.”
So what’s the takeaway from all of this? Well, there’s a ton to take away. But you’ll have to process most of it on your own since this post is already too long! But one thing is for sure:
We must learn how to discern between what is ‘life” and what is “structure”.
Our goal is to always go for life. Structures are not sacred – but life is. But sometimes this gets a bit fuzzy! Especially as we grow older.
Where are you protecting legacy structures at the expense of the fresh expression of life?
Every spring there is a massive growth of new structures in the plant world around us. This is because there is new life coursing through the roots and up, up, up through the trunks and branches…seeking a fresh expression in the earth. Structure must grow and stretch to keep up with life.
But come fall, when the harvest is in the barn (or “wineskin”), there remains the dry stems and branches that are relics of the previous season’s harvest. During the winter these old structures must be pruned away, so that the plant is lean and efficient and ready to adjust and produce relevant structures that will serve (and not compete with) the new harvest.
Where in your life, marriage, parenting, business, or ministry are you deifying structure…at the expense of life?
(If this post was helpful or challenging, you might want to read: Go For Life as a follow-up.)