I’m not usually an early adopter. But when the original iPad was released, I was so excited that I rushed out to buy one right away. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the latest tech. But like most digital tech, that iPad was not cutting edge for very long. The operating system needed to be updated several times, but eventually, in order to use the latest apps, I had to buy a new device.

If Jesus were physically on earth today, maybe that’s the kind of image He would have used instead of wine and wineskins…

In Mark 2:22, Jesus said that “no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.” In this passage, Jesus was answering questions about why His disciples weren’t taking part in some of the religious customs of the day. Through Jesus’ ministry, God was doing a new thing. And that new thing was not compatible with the religious rituals and systems of the time.

Today, too, God wants to do new things in Christians, ministries and churches. But if we’re too hung up on our old ways of thinking, there’s a danger we could miss out.

Right now, Yoko and I have just returned to Japan for a new missionary term. For us, Drawbridge Creations, our new online manga outreach, is one these new wineskins. Married life on the mission field is, too.

But I’m feeling challenged to be open to even newer things. We may have our own plans, but God may have some surprises for us, too. Am I open to what He wants to teach me? To Him using me in some way I don’t have planned? To new opportunities that don’t fit within my vision? 

What about you? 2020 has been a wake-up call for many Believers and churches. Our comfortable routines have been taken away, at least temporarily. We’ve been forced to re-think what faith, church and ministry look like. But perhaps God is using the these challenges to help us recognize what we’ve needed all along — new wine skins. Perhaps God is ready and waiting to bless us, revive us and use us in powerful new ways.  

But when the COVID crisis is behind us, will we just go back to the way things were? Or will we be ready, new wine skins in hand, for the gift He’s been preparing to pour out for us?

It might be time for an upgrade. Are we ready for it?