Posted by: philw0410 | June 15, 2010

Wine and Wineskins

We have often talked about Jesus words in Mark 2:22 where he says: ” And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, he pours new wine into new wineskins.”

It has occured to me, as a Church leader, how much of our attention is placed on the ‘wineskins’ aspect of this instruction. So much of a leaders time and energy can be focused on getting the wineskin right – the structures, the programmes, the values, the leadership shape, the strategies and vision and theology. So much of my time can be devoted to this kind of activity. New wine does require an appropriate vessel to sit in! Not having a wineskin is just not an option! Working on the wineskin is important and vital business. The Church community is meant to be set up in such a way that Gods empowering presence is welcomed and nurtured.

But heres the thing that I have realised we can subtely, but vitally, miss in our pursuit of the right looking wineskin – the Wine! A Wineskin is of very little value unless it is filled with wine. Wine is frequently the image used of scripture to speak of the Holy Spirit’s intoxicating presence and power. The New Wine of the Kingdom is the very dwelling of God among His people by His Spirit – it is His nearness, His anointing, His working. How sad it would be if we built fantastic structures and programmes, only to find that we had forgotten how to drink! How disappointing it would be to have awesome leadership strategy but find we had missed out on relating to the person of the Holy Spirit in a dynamic and living way.

Even in our current wave of passion for making our Churches missional communities, I worry that we will forget the reason that we are on mission. As John Piper says, we cannot commend to others what we do not cherish ourselves. In other words, my invitation to others has to be on the basis that I am enjoying God myself! We forget the wine at our peril. The wineskin must not just be functional, but devotional!

There is a reason that Christian leaders build new communities here on the earth – that they might enjoy the presence of the Spirit! I pray that my attention on wineskins does not cause me to de-prioiritse the drinking of wine.

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