One vacation, while my family was visiting my aunt and uncle, one of my cousins offered to let my wife and I use her room during the stay. We were tired from a long flight, and – probably a little earlier than usual – my wife and I headed to bed. The next morning, my aunt asked us if we had found the trundle bed (a second mattress that was stored beneath the main one, and lifted up to double the size of the bed). We laughed, because we had no idea that it was there, and had slept the night in half of the available space!
After describing how His kingdom was fundamentally different from (and inherently incompatible with) religious practices of His day (see Luke 5:33-38), Jesus makes this interesting statement:
And no one, after drinking old wine wishes for new; for he says, ‘The old is good enough.'”
Luke 5:39 NASB
While I understand that some wine gets better with age, Jesus was known for making the best. When Jesus turned water in to wine at a wedding (see John 2:1-10), it was high-quality – not the cheap stuff. More significantly, though, whether it is wine or something else in life, we can too often become content with “the way things are”, and miss out on opportunities that offer us something even better.
Even more than that, consuming the “old wine” of our current ways may actually lead us to get a little full of ourselves. Just as too much wine dulls the senses and sensibilities, remaining in a spiritual rut – complacency and apathy that prevent us from growing – can make it harder to change. It’s comfortable, simple, and doesn’t require as much effort as working daily to deepen our relationship with God.
There is a better way, though – a “new wine”. Following Jesus is not a passive activity. Praying must be paired with listening. Prompts from the Holy Spirit must turn into practices. Practical solutions must give way to stepping out in faith. Our bodies and hearts may ache as we serve others and share their burdens. Still, we will probably never find all of the blessings, rewards, and privileges of being a functional part of God’s kingdom if we are convinced that what we are doing now is as good as it will ever get.
Now, of course those aspects of our lives that are consistent with Jesus’ instructions don’t need to fundamentally change. We should still seek to be righteous, faithful, and trusting. However, there are a lot of ways for us to live out the purposes that God has in mind for us, and that path will not always look exactly the same – not just from one person to the next, but also from one season of life to the next.
While following God’s direction, some Christians have changed careers (even when successful already), moved to new countries, and changed the world. When they were offered something greater, few seem to have accomplished great things by being content with a lesser degree of passion for God, a reduced amount of prayer for His direction, or only limited practice of His commands.
So, as I ask myself the same question: Have we decided that our old ways are “good enough” (whether they are reasonable practices that turned into legalism, or a level of spiritual disciplines that are just “so-so”), when Jesus offers us something so much better? Or, are we continually seeking to discover the exciting opportunities that He has waiting for us next?
O taste and see that the LORD is good;
How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!
Psalms 34:8 NASB
Don’t settle for less than the best!