Read Mark 2:18-22
18 The disciples of John and those of the Pharisees were fasting. They came and said to Jesus,”Why do those who follow John or the Pharisees keep fasts but your disciples do nothing of the kind?”
19-20 Jesus told them,”Can you expect wedding-guest to fast in the bridegroom’s presence? Fasting is out of the question as long as they have the bridegroom with them. But the day will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them-that will be the time for them to fast.
21-22 “Nobody,” he continued,”sews a patch of unshrunken cloth on to an old coat. If he does,the new patch tears away from the old and the hole is worse than ever. And nobody puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does,the new wine bursts the skins,the wine is spilt and the skins are ruined. No,new wine must go into new wineskins.” (JBP)
We are saying nothing new when we say that we can’t avoid change. Business corporations employ experts in change management. With new technology comes change. With new governments come change. Followers of Jesus are caught up in this even as they hold to an essentially unchanging faith.
The Christian church conveys a message of truth for all times and ages,and yet must change the way it does it in different times and ages. The religious traditionalists of Jesus’ day had become stuck in a set of procedures and rules that failed to take note of the coming of the promised Messiah. Jesus reminds them the old ways would not do. In this case,fasting to hasten the coming of the Messiah was now unnecessary because he was already here.
The old wineskins of every tradition,every practice,every ministry in the church today may not contain what God is doing. The Spirit of God must be allowed to breathe fresh life into his church as that church comes to grip with an ever-changing world.
We certainly hold on to the essential truths of the faith. But in clinging tenaciously to all the forms it takes,we may unwittingly make that faith obscure to those in a changing society. By all means hold firmly to faith,but beware that such a hold does not suffocate its transmission.