Summary: What Jesus says about the realities of changing your church
Shrinking Jeans and Broken Bottles
My daughter Briley and I (this is Briley - PIC) were driving down the road in my car the other day and she was sitting up front and found this 4 cassette copy of Zig Ziglar’s Secrets of Closing the Sale. She pulled it out and said, “Hey Dad! Have you watched this?” I said, “Briley, it’s not a DVD.” She said “What is it?” I told her that inside were 4 cassettes. She said “What do you do with them?” I explained that we used them before we had CDs to listen to music. She asked if we could listen. I said sure and told her to put it in. You should have seen this kid trying to put a cassette in the deck. She was trying to make it fit like a VCR tape. We finally got it in and she said “Dad, you need a CD player in your car….”
Man times are changing aren’t they? You know life is passing you by when your kids say “what do you do with cassettes?” And as everything around us is changing at break neck speed, the church of yesterday is faced with a decision regarding today. How do we in faithfulness to an ancient message and in contrast to a wicked culture, how do we move along as well?
Some of you are here because it is homecoming. You have history at this place. But the place looks a little different these days. Different people, different styles of worship, dress….whatever. And the truth is that for every year that passes in time for CCC, each homecoming will make it real clear that things are changing around here. And for those of you who haven’t been around for a while and have come back to celebrate as our guests, just wait….homecoming in a few years from now will find this place looking even more different.
But that’s a good question. How does the church balance a changeless message in an ever changing culture? Well, just like anything and everything else we encounter in life, Jesus has dealt with this one too.
Turn to Luke 5:33-39.
In this story we find Jesus at a little get together at Matthew’s (the tax collector) house. Luke 5:29 tells us that Matthew’s fellow tax collectors and “other guests” were there. You don’t have to be too creative to figure out what kind of shady characters would be the guests at a party that a tax collector is having.
And verse 30 tells us that the Religious leaders of the day were pretty concerned with the fact that Jesus is hanging out with these types of people. One version says “scum”. That’s how they viewed broken people who didn’t know God.
Finally they have had enough. You know that feeling when you can’t just stand there anymore? When your convictions about something have reached the passion boiling point and you have to just say something to somebody? They do. Here’s what they say………..
“The religious leaders complained that Jesus’ disciples were feasting instead of fasting. “John the Baptist’s disciples always fast and pray and so the disciples of the Pharisees. Why are yours always feasting?”
Fasting was like a HUGE part of the religious fabric of Judaism. They practiced and encouraged fasting as display of one’s level of religious temperature. The more you fasted….the more spiritual you were. And to prove this, the Pharisees fasted twice a week minimum.
The funny thing about this is that only one time in the OT were the Jews commanded by God to fast – the day of Atonement. Jesus himself really only spent time teaching about fast once, in the “sermon on the mount”, where He said NOT to do it for the wrong reasons (i.e. to look spiritual).
So when they question Jesus about why his disciples spend more time feasting than fasting, Jesus knows that their question has very little to do with fasting and very much to do with – change.
Jesus’ entire ministry (3 ½ years worth) was viewed as an attempt to take the old way (the Law) and trash it to bring in a new way (grace). The only problem with that thinking is that this isn’t what Jesus wanted to do at all.
He said in Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy them, but to fulfill them.”
In other words, I came to finish what God used the law to start. His intention was never to say that the old system of reconnection to God was a bad one, it was just that – it was the way God intended to get things moving along. The Old Testament practices of sacrifice and fasting on the day of atonement were meant to teach people that God loves to forgive our sins more than anything.