How many of you remember Blockbuster? Did you ever make it a Blockbuster night? Back in the day, there was a blockbuster on every street corner. At the top of its game, Blockbuster had nearly 10 thousand stores around the world and made $5.9 billion a year.
In the late 90s, an Internet upstart company named Netflix started a DVD by mail service. Netflix executives flew down to Texas in 2000 to make an offer to Blockbuster CEO John Antioco. For $50 million, Netflix would join forces with Blockbuster and help it launch its own online and DVD-by-mail service. The CEO laughed Netflix out of the office, seeing them as a small little company with no future.
Now, Netflix is valued at $194 billion dollars. And Blockbuster is a distant footnote in history. What happened? They refused to change.
God wants us to live in a New Normal that is a new life at a whole new level. And to really live that kind of life, it means we have to let God work His change in us, in our hearts and our minds.
It’s clear that our world is changing at a rapid pace, and we have to change with it. We can’t dig in our heels and refuse to change and grow.
We obviously live in a changing world. Think about this: the world’s largest taxi company, Uber, doesn’t own any vehicles. Facebook, the world’s biggest social media source doesn’t create any content. Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, doesn’t own any real estate. Alibaba, the world’s largest retailer, doesn’t own any product. These are huge changes in the way we live.
Most of us are afraid of change and afraid to change. We don’t want to lose our sense of control. We’re afraid of things being different. Change is too hard, and it can be painful. When we’re used to the way things are, even if the way things are isn’t that great, we get comfortable. It’s easy to resist change.
It’s not just us, but people back in the New Testament had the same resistance to change. Especially the religious leaders called the Pharisees back in Jesus’ day. They especially didn’t like it that Jesus hung out with people that they considered unclean. Jesus loved to hang out with the down and out. Even the lowest of the low, the tax collectors.
One day, when Jesus was eating with a bunch of sinners, the religious leaders confronted Jesus about what He was doing. They put religion over relationship. In fact, religion hates relationship.
Jesus knew these holier-than-thou people were triggered because He wouldn’t follow their man-made traditions. They wanted to know why He would let His followers break these cultural customs. So, Jesus let them know why His new way didn’t fit with their old customs. He tells them that change is going to come to the way you worship God and it’s not old and dry, but it is new and fresh. Then He gives them three pictures of this new life and how they can be changed.
Luke 5:36-39 (NIV): He told them this parable: “No one tears a patch from a new garment and sews it on an old one. If he does, he will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. 37And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. 38No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. 39And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, ‘The old is better.’”
In these verses, Jesus is giving us 3 truths to experience change in our lives that we so desperately need.
3 Truths to Experience Change
1. The old can’t hold the new.
In verse 36, Jesus says, No one tears a patch from a new garment and sews it on an old one. If he does, he will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old.
He’s talking about something we can all relate to. The other day, I was out running in the country with my dog, Sweet Pete, and she went under a barbed wire fence, so I tried to go over it. And I ripped my jeans that I loved. What am I gonna do? Not patch them.
Jesus is saying you can’t use a new piece of fabric to patch up old clothes. Like you’re not going to mess up new jeans to patch up old jeans. One is worn out and the other is fresh. It doesn’t fit! Jesus is saying, “I don’t want to patch up your old dirty clothes. I am giving you a whole new set of clothes.”
He didn’t come to add on a new part to an old religion. He came so you could experience a new relationship that is alive and it gives life!
He isn’t interested in just patching up your old life, with all its rips and tears. He’s giving you a whole new life. A fresh suit to wear, not a patched up old one.
When you experience God’s new normal, you don’t just patch it on to your old normal. Jesus isn’t an add-on to your life. He wants to be your life.
You don’t take the new life Jesus gives you and keep on living the old way you used to live. It doesn’t fit you anymore.
Only He can change your life. But that doesn’t stop us from trying to fix our own lives on our own. We try all kinds of things to try and change our lives. Here are:
3 Useless Ways we try to Change
We try to fix our lives by doing good and not doing the bad. This is called salvation by our own works. That’s the basis of every world religion. Religion is people’s attempt to get to God. Christianity is God, coming to us, sending His Son, Jesus. When we try to work harder to make ourselves good enough and clean up our own mess that we’ve made of our lives, usually we end up making a bigger mess of our lives. We think, “well, I can’t make my life worse by trying to clean up my own life.” Sure, you can make it worse on your own. In the book of Isaiah, he says, all of our good works are like dirty rags compared to God. (Isaiah 64:6)
The problem is, you can’t do enough good in your own. How good would you have to be to work your way to God? You would have to be perfect. And we all come short of being perfect. I know I do!
My daughter, Makenzie, just got a new paddleboard, which is like a surfboard that you stand on with a paddle and you have to paddle to get anywhere. It’s not easy. It takes a lot of core work, and it engages your legs and your upper body. To move forward, you have to paddle. The other day, we were out at the San Marcos river and Makenzie was trying to paddle upstream and she’s literally moving backward as she’s trying to move forward. That’s what we’re like when we’re trying to work to change ourselves. And then because of God’s grace, imagine that Jesus comes by with a big boat with a motor, and he picks you up with your paddleboard and places you and your board on the boat with the motor. But you’re still trying to paddle. It’s the motor of God’s spirit propelling you forward. That’s what God does. But we still try to work for it. It’s really ridiculous. Because there’s nothing you can do to make God love you any more or any less.
So, we don’t change by trying harder, and we don’t change by:
I’m going to try and follow all the rules and all the laws. But the problem is, all the laws in the world can’t change our hearts.
What do kids do when you just teach them to follow a parents’ rules? They will either comply without thinking and then when they are grown, they have no idea about what’s right or wrong or how to make decisions, or what usually happens instead is that they rebel.
The religious leaders were all about the rules. In fact, they loved the rules so much that they made up additional laws to stack on top of the Old Testament laws just to make sure they didn’t get close to breaking any of the laws. The problem with the law is that it’s impossible to keep every law perfectly. And even if you do, that doesn’t do a thing for your heart. Jesus said the purpose of the law was to show us how much we need God.
God’s grace is the new thing that God gives us that actually moves us to grow and change. God’s grace propels us ahead. So, it’s not us, it’s God working through us.
Change doesn’t happen from the outside in. Change happens from the inside out. So many of us try to fix the outside of our lives thinking it’s going to change us on the inside. But real change is an inside job.
For some of us, we try to keep the rules by checking off all the boxes. I don’t smoke, I don’t chew, I don’t date the girls that do. I attend a church service, or stream a worship service, I tithe my 10 percent. I can do all the things I should be doing as a follower of Jesus, but it’s not those things that make you a Christian. It’s a relationship with Jesus. Or else we just become little self-righteous, holier-than-thou, Pharisees who are all about religion and not relationship. We turn a “get to” into a “have to”. We start judging people around us. Or, we’re all about programs and not people. That’s what happens when we try to follow the rules.
This is the power of guilt. Some of us think the worse we feel the more we will change. The problem with change by guilt is that is doesn’t work. Guilt really isn’t from God. God’s Spirit will convict us when we are doing the wrong thing, but that conviction should lead us to confess to God and make a change, not leave us stuck stumbling in our sin. You can think of guilt like a Check Engine light on your car. It’s a warning light, but it won’t fix or change anything.
So, what do we do if we want to change? We go to God. Because the old way can’t hold the new day. Jesus is telling us that a little old is too much. It can’t hold the new life that Jesus wants to give you.
2. Only the new can hold the new.
Jesus makes you new and then you grow from there. In verses 37 and 38, He says, And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins.
By the way, in the Bible, wine is a picture of joy. Jesus is showing the difference between something that is essential, which is the wine, and something that is non-essential, the wineskins. You don’t need a wineskin to hold the wine unless you’ve got the wine. And that’s important because we have something new, powerful, something we need that’s essential- the gospel of Jesus. But then there are things that are secondary, that are good, but not essential. These are our traditions, structures and ways we do things. Those are the things that can change.
Why wouldn’t you put new wine into old wineskin? The wine is in process. It’s fermenting and growing and expanding, like what God does in our lives. He wants to grow us. But the old wineskins had been left out in the sun and the became hard and brittle over time. If you pour the new wine in there, as it expands, it would bust the wineskin.
Over time, because of hurt and pain, our hearts get hard and brittle. And if you’re hard and inflexible, you will break.
Blessed are the flexible, for they won’t get bent out of shape.
Some people’s hearts are so hard, because of hurt and bitterness and pain. And it takes only one small thing to send us over the edge and we explode.
Ezekiel 11:19: I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.
We need to let Jesus soften our hearts and do His work in us to change us. And that only happens when we surrender to Him.
Jesus gives us the last picture that tells us to…
3. Take Hold of the New and Release the Old.
This week, I got a new pair of running shoes. I didn’t even realize that I needed them and how worn out my old shoes were until I put on the new shoes. It’s amazing the difference between the old worn out pair and the new. That’s what Jesus is pointing to in verse 39 And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, ‘The old is better.’”
We have so much trouble changing because we get stuck on our old preferences.
My old ways never really worked for me before, but I’m going to keep trying it over and over and hope that something different happens as a result this time. That’s the very definition of insanity.
My kids have grown up as chicken-nuggetarians. That’s what they ate every meal. Then when we tried to get them to try something new, they turned up their noses. That’s because that’s all they knew! I would say, “You think chicken nuggets are good, you should try a steak! It’s even better!”
You think your old way of life, the old normal, is working for you. It’s not. The old way is that I am in control of my life. I get to do things my way, the way I like.
The New Normal is giving Jesus full control.
Change doesn’t come easy. Some of us have gotten comfortable on our comfy couch and we don’t want to change. We like it the way it is. But it’s time for a new normal.
Think about a caterpillar for a second. Can you imagine if I were to take a caterpillar and tape some wings on it? And say, “Okay now, it’s time for you to fly!” It will never work. Because its very nature and form has to be changed. It has to experience a metamorphosis. That’s a Greek word that literally means “transformation!”
You have a part to play in the change process as you partner with God. But the change starts and ends with Jesus filling you with His Spirit and changing you from the inside out.
I need to see myself as new. You’ve got to be it before you see it.
I could see myself as an NBA player all day long, but I would be fooling myself. When I see myself as a new person that God has changed, I will live as the new person He made me to be. Not as an add-on to my old life, but as a new person, changed by the power of God.
Are you ready to let God make the changes He wants to make in your life? Are you ready to let Him bring new life into you? Are you ready for Him to use you to impact people’s lives?
He wants to make you new today and bring you to life! Not to make you more religious, but so you will have a new relationship with Jesus!