In the last post we looked at the parable of the sower in Mark 4 where Jesus explained that the seed is God’s word and the soil is our hearts. Part of forming a new wineskin, a new way of thinking, is paying attention to our hearts. While there are varied ideas around what the heart may be, in scripture we can see that Jesus viewed it as a treasure chest. That may not be the first idea that springs to mind but let the scriptures speak.
21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21 (NKJV)
It appears from Matthew 6:21 that our heart is our capacity to value or treasure things. Later in Matthews’s gospel Jesus is more explicit that our heart produces good or evil depending on what we treasure or value.
35 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. Matthew 12:35 (NKJV)
So part of developing a new wineskin means developing a right heart, valuing the right things. In connecting the idea of valuing right things consider how we structure our meetings as the body of Christ. Recently in reading an article I was reminded of the old architectural idea that ‘form follows function.’ That is, the design of a building should be to facilitate the purpose of the building. Considering that one of the metaphors for the body of Christ is that of a building or temple I want to consider what wineskin facilitates the effective use of the building.
We can think of natural or spiritual buildings but come back to the same idea – understanding the purpose. The purpose of the church is to display and release the life of Christ. I contend that doing that requires a flexible wineskin that remains new and fresh. A wineskin that can stretch to accommodate different expressions of His life at different times. Paul described what he saw as a typical church meeting in 1 Corinthians.
26 How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. 27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret. 28 But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in church, and let him speak to himself and to God. 29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. 30 But if anything is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. 32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. 1 Corinthians 14:26-32 (NKJV)
The wineskin Paul was promoting was a flexible one. Different members of the body had different gifts and Paul thought that they should be expressed. Part of this wineskin inherent in these verses was the idea of mutual submission and respect. Elsewhere in his writings Paul is very clear about the place of leadership in the body and he is not denying that here.
My view, for decades now, has been that the role of leadership is to facilitate the development and release of His gifts in and to His body. In a future post I will develop more of the how. At present it is more of question of what we value. So here are some reflective questions to get us thinking about what wineskin we embrace.
Do our hearts value a wineskin that is flexible, looking for the gifts in our brothers and sisters and seeking to see others released in their gifts and callings? Is this how our building, our expression of His body functions? If not can we do things to see this expression realized?