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New thinking for the new year

December 27, 2016

 

Can you believe we are closing out another year? That means it’s time for New Year’s resolutions. It is a common practice to close a year in reflection over our gains and losses, our progresses and retreats, our victories and defeats. 

Many people look forward to setting New Year’s resolutions — despite the fact that they usually fail miserably at achieving them. The resounding questions are: How do we overcome the pattern of resolution failure? Where are we going wrong? Do we merely lack the willpower, self-control or true desire for change? 

JESUS MASTERFULLY INFERS THE NATURE OF NEW WINE DURING THE FERMENTATION PROCESS IS LIKE NEW IDEAS THAT ARE SO FRESH AND BUBBLY THEY CAUSE PRESSURE TO BUILD INSIDE THE CONTAINER. THEREFORE, YOU WOULDN’T PLACE NEW WINE IN WINESKINS THAT HAVE BECOME BRITTLE AND INFLEXIBLE ANY MORE THAN YOU WOULD PLACE NEW ASPIRATIONS INTO OLD MINDSETS.

In Mark 2:22, Jesus provides a strategy for addressing this habit of missing the mark year after year: “And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.”

 

This passage begins with a question about why John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting when Jesus’ disciples were not. Jesus gives the explanation, but goes on to teach about mindsets by comparing them to wineskins. 

 

Jesus masterfully infers the nature of new wine during the fermentation process is like new ideas that are so fresh and bubbly they cause pressure to build inside the container. Old wineskins are like old mindsets and thought patterns that are so rigid and fixed they crack under the pressure. Therefore, you wouldn’t place new wine in wineskins that have become brittle and inflexible any more than you would place new aspirations into old mindsets.

 

In other words, new goals require new thought patterns because old mindsets are not pliable enough to achieve new outcomes. New goals demand behavioral changes, which cannot be accomplished with the same old ways of thinking. Like they say, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” 

You may wonder why such drastic changes are needed in order to accomplish a few goals. The truth is, you do not need to change very much unless your New Year’s resolutions are casting a vision for how you intend your life to be by the year’s end. 

 

To that end, Jesus is not generally critical of old wineskins. They are actually fine — as long as they are holding old wine, not new. 

 

Old wineskins represent traditional thinking. You know, that “this is the way we’ve always done it” kind of thinking. Sometimes we have done things the same way for so long that we forget why we’re still doing them that way. Old wineskins reflect a rejection of new, fresh ideas. This is actually a rebellion against the acquisition of knowledge — critical because we cease to achieve when we stop learning. 

 

Accomplishing New Year’s resolutions is like choosing to pay the full price for processing new wine, which includes the packaging. However, at the end of the year, it will prove to be currency well spent because new wineskins represent new ways of thinking, new methods for accomplishing goals, and new blessings. Will you pay the price?

 

The Rev. Gail T. Smith is pastor of the Universal Light Christian Center in Macon.


Read more here: http://www.macon.com/living/religion/article123178914.html#storylink=cpy

 

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