I suppose, if I’m honest, one of the things I like most about Jesus is that he was a rebel. Throughout the Gospels, we learn that Jesus did not always follow the rules. He didn’t fast according to traditional Hebrew law, nor did he cow-tow to those in charge just because they wore the fancy robes.
A man after my own heart. As I look at my life, I can’t say I’m what many would consider traditional, either.
And yet, as with Jesus, my life is one in which I strive to give love. I don’t break rules as much as I follow the ones that make sense and add value to the plight of humankind. Like Jesus, I am on a mission.
And so are you.
In fact, I suspect you’re also a bit of a rebel, too, aren’t you? Traditional religions may not be fully satisfying your thirst for life’s deepest questions. You came to Unity to see if your soul’s purpose could be discovered, and you’re learning right now that your life does have a purpose – in fact, it has a higher purpose than you may have ever truly accepted.
We are drawn to religious teachings because we live in our external self, with a small “s,” for most of our time. We have been raised in a tradition that teaches us that somehow the rules of living a good life are written in biblical law. We believe that our human laws are somehow endorsed by God, as well, so, therefore, if we want to go to heaven, we just have to be good little boys and girls.
To a certain extent, Jesus taught in the same way.
Jesus taught his disciples and followers some very sound, real-world lessons. He taught to love your enemies, do good unto others, and give Caesar what is Caesar’s. He knew that before he could take this audience into a higher level of consciousness, he had to first satisfy their ego in order to allow it to be set aside.
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.”John 16:12 NRSV
Jesus was bringing his followers into a place where they could truly begin the deep dive into who they truly were.
In those days, wineskins were often made of goat skins. As the wine fermented, it made the wineskin brittle. To pour new wine into an old skin was risky, as it would likely burst from being made brittle by the previous wine.
I know you’ve likely heard this parable before. I’ve heard it both in the Methodist church of my youth and the Unity of now. It’s easy to understand that the teachings of Jesus represented something new to the Hebrews and that if His followers were to truly grasp the full importance of His teachings, they could not continue viewing God from a previous place.
In traditional Christianity, this new wineskin seemed more to suggest that I needed to conform more to the rules of being a good little Christian. The more I minded my manners, attended church each Sunday, and avoided non-Christians, the better my wineskin and the wine within.
In Unity, we look at this parable to mean that we must bring ourselves to a new level of understanding in order to be able to appreciate and use the fullest power of Jesus’ teachings.
Both of these suggest that our journey is one of degrees or modifications from where we are – a process of coaxing ourselves to a different version, but still much the same, as we are now.
And I agree with that to some extent, but I think Jesus was saying more than that here.
“But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins.” [Luke 5:38 NRSV
Jesus doesn’t say put wine into fresh wineskins. He says to put NEW wine into new wineskins.
He also told them a parable: “No one tears a piece from a new garment and sews it on an old garment; otherwise the new will be torn, and the piece from the new will not match the old.”Luke 5:36 NRSV
He also spoke of using cloth from a new garment as a patch, but to use it only to patch a new garment; that old garments could not be patched by new ways of thinking alone.
The new wine and the new patch represent, to me, a new me. The spiritual me that exists in a new wineskin or a new garment.
In other words, I should seek not only to bring my external, ego-self into a new understanding, a new wineskin, so to speak, but I need to seek and find my true spiritual essence to put into that wineskin. Without finding my spiritual Self, with a capital S, I am doing nothing more than simply putting what I think is myself into a fancy new package.
Jesus called out the hypocrites of his day. He helped us all to see hypocrisy more clearly.
Well, we should see it more clearly. Unfortunately, we have seen – and continue to see – that we are so often misled by those of fancy robes and lofty titles, but whose wine inside is really old wine.
I struggle with this every day. But not in the seeing of hypocrisy in others; I think we see plenty of it everywhere we turn.
No, the hypocrisy with which I struggle is finding it in myself.
I talk a great New Thought. I enjoy sinking into a book by David Hawkins, or the Keep a True Lent by Charles Fillmore. I meditate in the morning and I spend wonderful times online with you and others. I make sure I watch my language when talking to others about spiritual matters, as well, as if expletives are somehow sinful and for those of lesser consciousness. I adorn myself with the title of “pastor,” as if that, in and of itself, signifies some level of exemplary accomplishment.
But that is only the wineskin, my friend. I am not ready to pour new wine into it just yet. Although this wineskin may well hold the new wine without bursting, I want to only fill it with wine worthy of being held in the first place.
Many people will pour what they think is new wine into that wineskin. They adopt the outer appearance of higher consciousness and assume their hearts are now filled with the power of the Christ.
Many will feel they are wearing new garments and have patched all that is wrong in their lives with patches of new garments.
Now, I’m not here to discourage you or make you feel that you’re not full of new wine, as it were.
But, I want us both to consider that perhaps our wineskins – our new, wonderfully glowing wineskins – might still be empty.
And that’s a good thing, as far as I’m concerned. If I feel my wineskin is full – knowing that I am not yet fully realizing my Oneness with the Christ Consciousness at all times – then I am full of old wine that needs to be emptied or consumed. I cannot put the new wine of my new consciousness into a wineskin that’s already full of the old consciousness.
I realize I’m probably beating this analogy to death, but this passage, which appears in the three synoptic gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, is particularly poignant for me. As much as I want to believe that I am filled with the fullness of higher consciousness; as much as I may give the outward appearance of being connected to Spiritual Truth; as much as I want to rest on this journey, I know in my heart that I still have a ways to go.
This journey that you and I are on is not easy. And there are no shortcuts. The journey is different for each person, and the goal is truly beyond mortal description.
For many, though, they are not aware there is a journey. They look at their life and, either content that they have achieved a level of success or that life is hard and meant to be painful, they set aside any aspirations of reaching for Truth with a capital T.
I’m sure, like me, you have found by studying and applying Unity teachings that your lives are better. You may have experienced a healing, a miracle, or a newfound abundance. Through the use of affirmative prayer, we are truly able to bring about that which represents the perfection of God into our being.
Cyndi and I enjoy the rewards of being a servant to the Christ Consciousness every day, and it truly is joyous.
But that does not mean that our wineskins are filled with new wine. In fact, I would suggest that our journey is truly to finish preparing our new wineskins so that we can fully receive the Christ Consciousness as it will eventually pour into us.
You and I can do this together, too. We can support each other during this work. But, we should not stop there.
Part of what we know to be our responsibility as Practical Christians is to teach and share. I’m not talking about evangelizing or as some call it, witnessing.
I’m talking simply about loving and forgiving. Which, in my mind, always operates together.
And we have to do the tough loving, as well.
I don’t know about you, but I find it very difficult to love and forgive some of the people I see in the news today. Oh my gosh, I just shake my head sometimes in disbelief and grief.
But, as I discussed with you last month, I believe what we are seeing in the news and in our communities is us. We cannot separate ourselves from others, for we are all part of the same Christ Consciousness.
Here’s something to consider: when you see someone do something outrageous on the news; something that you say to yourself, “how does that person even have that position in government!” ask yourself this question: Is their action revealing something about all of us that needs to be fixed? Is there something we are learning about how we exist that we need to repair or change? And would that change help lead us into a better, more loving place?
For me, it’s kind of an interesting exercise. Let’s take the Black Lives Matter marches and protests, for example. I truly cry when I see the video of George Floyd laying under the knee of that officer; I’ve never seen anything so horribly cruel. But, as tragic as the deaths of George Floyd and others are, those deaths have begun to wake us up to truths that were always there, but which we kept hidden for so long. George Floyd represents a turning point in our group consciousness that may be lifting our collective soul to a slightly higher place. I say “slightly,” because I believe that collectively we still have a long way to go.
You see, metaphysics is not just for re-interpreting the Bible. Metaphysical meaning exists today! Seek the higher meaning of everything in life and you will begin to create the New Wine of Higher Consciousness.
In climate change, there is a higher meaning; in the strife of the Middle East, there is a higher, metaphysical meaning; and in the families that are now learning how to spend almost all their time together, there is a higher meaning. In the protests, the politics, and the pandemic, we can find a higher, metaphysical meaning that opens the door to our higher purpose.
When Jesus was crucified, his death was not a higher purpose. It was his teaching of how we must allow the ego to die in order to live as our full selves. It was his resurrection into a Higher Christ consciousness that the Passion Play seeks to teach us.
As we journey together toward realizing the Christ Consciousness in our lives, we begin to bring the new wine into focus. To realize the Christ Consciousness, we must be an active PART of the Christ Consciousness. We must seek out, do, and champion those acts that resemble what Jesus would have us do.
And to learn what is ours to do, we simply listen for the Holy Spirit, the voice of the Christ Consciousness, the inspiration of the SuperMind that is ours to share, to build, and to love.
When we hear the voice of Truth, when we can truly love and forgive all others, when we can know in our soul that we are fully Divine, we can then begin to pour the New Wine into the New Wineskin.