He told them this parable: "No one tears a patch from a new garment and sews it on an old one. If he does, he will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, 'The old is better.' "
He challenged me to answer this question: Has my heart grown old? Am I stuck on the old wine?
I run into this concept at work all the time, as I try to explain the concepts of Twitter & blogging to some of my older colleagues who are nearing retirement. Many of them are quite open to this type of change in the world of business, but a handful are the stereotypical crotchety old men who can't see why anybody has to do anything different. It's ironic: when the fax machine first came out, these men were at the forefront of the new technology. Same thing when early computer-based word processing software came out - they jumped right on the technology bandwagon and left their previous generation in the dust in terms of squeezing more hours out of their workday. But an amazing thing happened: they got used to the new things, and before long they weren't new anymore. Suddenly the fax machine is archaic, and being able to increase your font size in MS Word doesn't leave your coworkers gawking in astonishment.
But I see this same trait in myself. When I first learned my MS Excel skills, it was on Excel 97. I have Excel 2007 at home, and it's chock full of new features that weren't around when I cut my teeth on it. Like that new Office Clipboard that lets you copy multiple chunks of data into memory simultaneously and paste them individually at your leisure - it annoys me and I've disabled the feature, because I am used to the copy-and-paste-one-at-a-time method. So I find myself stuck in an old rut when there is a new and more efficient method. I just don't have the desire to learn to use it. Just like a crotchety old man who doesn't give two cents about Twitter.
Similarly, my decision to surrender my life to Christ is not, chronologically speaking, a new thing any more. Naturally, at the moment of my rebirth I was made new, as I Cor. 6:17 says, "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" This is what the Lord challenged me with last night. The theme of this entire blog - Be Transformed - is derived from Romans 12:2: "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." Renewing is an active, current verb and implies continuity.
I'm also reminded of Lamentations 3:22-23, which says of the Lord, "His mercies never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." If the Lord gives me new mercies every day, then I should be renewed every day. I am learning that my rebirth in Christ was not a single event, but is a lifelong journey. If I stop moving, stop growing, stop receiving his mercies, stop being transformed, then I am stagnant and dying. G.K. Chesterton said, "A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it."
Lord, show me your new mercies tomorrow morning; help me to swim upstream.
And starting tomorrow, I'm going to figure out that multiple clipboard thing in MS Office.