Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved. Matthew 9:17
When I read this at a younger age, I didn’t understand why the wineskins would expand. Only later did I realize the process of crushing grapes exposes them to naturally occurring yeasts. Yeast consumes the sugars in the juice, with the products being alcohol and carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide gas is what caused old skins to burst. In the simple process of crushing the grapes to extract the juice, yeast mixes with the juice, causing fermentation.
This sure sounds a lot like the life of a Jesus follower. Every Jesus follower has within them the ability to serve God’s Kingdom in a way no one else can. Just like the juice in the grape, these abilities are sometimes not opened up to their potential service for the Kingdom. Perhaps fear, pride, or any number of things are causing these talents to remain unused. Unlike the grapes, which have no choice as to whether they’re crushed or not, we do. We make the decision to open ourselves up to service, or remaining closed off. Just like an uncrushed grape, keeping our abilities to ourselves and not serving others causes us to be dry like a raisin.
Making the choice to avoid using our abilities might give the impression that life is easier with little or no danger involved. But, as the quote “A ship in harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships are for” aptly puts, our serving the Kingdom is what we’re for, not remaining closed and ‘safe.’ Will this exposed life of service be safe and sound, with little to no pain? No, of course not. It will be rife with struggles and pain. But, just as our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world have found, we can be full of joy in the midst of suffering.
The challenge is making the first move to serve the Kingdom. Step out and see that God is good, and he’ll be your refuge when the struggles come (Psalm 34:8)! Stepping into serving God and his Kingdom can bring joy unspeakable. If those first steps are in your past, praise God! If the first step experience is yet to be yours, take Psalm 34:8 to heart, and start stepping!
By Rich Obrecht