The scripture in Luke 5:33-39 (& parallels) is not just about table fellowship, else the similar teaching about repairing an old garment with a piece from new would make no sense. This is about the Kingdom of God, the primary element in Jesus’ teaching, (over 100 references in the gospels). There is in UK & USA today a lot of ‘New Wine’ worshipping – which is good; but, too often it is done in an ‘old wine’ context – which is bad.

Jesus inaugurates the ‘New Covenant’ kingdom, (the ‘new wine’ and new garment), against (in contradistinction to) the existing political-religious frameworks, including, especially, Judaism. Human kingdoms always want to expand, to become empire. That was the failure of the early church, most especially in the West. When ‘the empire’, in the person of Constantine, converted, the church did a deal. It  answered the  question, ‘is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor or not?’ with, “Yes, as long as we get to share”

Jesus was offered empire; and rejected it. The kingdom of God is both larger and more particular. But Evangelicals chasing power – both spiritual and political – have continued to buy in to Satan’s myth.  It’s no way to save the world. And it certainly isn’t God’s way – The Cross proves it.

The old wineskins of empire with their filthy garments cannot sustain the full truth of God’s Good News in Jesus. We must get rid of that filth and clothe ourselves in garments (& beliefs) that are fit for the kingdom (Ephesians 4, Colossians 3). Get rid of any notion of nationalism, (be careful even of patriotism: it can take us into dangerous places) and exceptionalism, and live for God’s kingdom, clothed in his righteousness, so that all will see that we Christians truly are ‘children of God’.

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