What is better, old or new?
When it comes to wine people say old is better. For me, a bottle of two–dollar wine from Trader Joe’s is good enough. But it wasn’t for Jesus. When he changed water to wine at the wedding in Cana of Galilee the “wedding planner” said the wine Jesus made was far better than the wine the groom served.
Later in the story, Jesus makes the case that you can’t have “good old wine” without first putting new wine into new wine skins. If you use worn out wine skins the stitches tear and you lose the wine. If our goal is to enjoy something that gets better with age we must favor the new in order to get the old. Which Jesus says is worth the effort: No one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, the old is better.
It’s the same way with friendship; you can’t have “good old friends” if you don’t make “new friends” from time to time.
How about memories? You will never have fond memories of the past if you’re not willing to make new memories in the present.
Spiritual maturity is no different. If we want a vibrant spiritual life that flavors our community with righteousness, joy, and peace, we must leave behind old patterns of discipleship that hinder spiritual growth. When we discern false narratives that are used to justify self-serving idolatry and consumer-based religion we must expose and dismantle the old paradigm and create new models of beloved community.
In my book, Think Red, I look at the values of Jesus and compare his ways with the prominent values of the evangelical church. When I compare the two it becomes obvious that we need to rethink the way we do church in the twenty-first century. If we want to grow vibrant spiritual leaders who love justice, seek mercy and walk humbly with God we must re-evaluate how we do church, why we do it, and what narratives drive our efforts.
Or to say it metaphorically: If we want good old wine like Jesus made we need some new wine skins!
Larry Stoess is an author, public speaker, and urban church planter. He loves telling stories about how dreaming with God will empower people to make old and broken things new again. Larry and a band of friends founded the Church of the Promise in Louisville's Portland neighborhood; The Table, a pay-what-you-can community café; and Promise Housing Plus, a non-profit construction company. He has written about their experience of dreaming with God in his new book: Think Red.