Sermon:  Elastic Faith

Summary:  In these stories, we are presented a choice between two ways.  One
is an old way of rigidity in mourning, traditionalism, and legalism.  The other is
the new dynamic way in Christ of joy, his lordship, and his love.  We must
choose Christ’s way through joyful merciful ministry.

Know:  In order to grow spiritually, we need to be flexible and pliable so over our
life time we can be continually molded into his image

Feel:  A humble sense of our limitation in the knowledge of God so that we can
keep our faith “elastic” enough to stretch and grow, or shrink when needed.

	Identify preconceptions that cause or has caused difficulty in your life to
shrink or expand  (shrinking - giving up something, whether a preconception or
practice, as God instructs in his word;   (expanding - incorporating new actions
and belief as God instructs in his word).  
	Reflect on times past where God has had to put “new wine” in you.
Discuss what it would take if God has to put “new wine” in your again?  
	List the top two areas in your life that you have the most difficulty with in
taking in the new wine of joyful merciful mercy.

Text:  Luke 5:33 - 6:11

Scripture Reading:  Isa 43:18-19a

1.  What would we do without elastic?
	a.  Rubber bands, rubber gloves
	b.  Relaxed fit pants that “grow with you”
2.  Do we need elastic in our spiritual life?
	- This mornings text will deal with that
3.  Key verses in this section - (5:36-39)
	a.  We are presented with 2 ways
		- One way - Old, rigid, can’t take on anything new
		- Other way - New, elastic, dynamic, can stretch or shrink
	b.  Obviously the better way is the elastic way
	c.  This may seem strange
		- Bible usually praises what is old
		- Wisdom is older than this world Prov. 8:22-23
		- Jer 6:16 - Ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is
		- Old communicates stability, tried and true, dependable
	b.  But now there is something new that must be incorporated
		- v.39 - Many will not accept it
		- (Isa 43:18-19) - Don’t dwell in past, God is doing something new
		- Not a matter of new v.s. old, but of God’s way v.s. our way
4.  Message - Can’t be rigid and accept new wine from God
	a.  To grow, mature, and be conformed to his image, need elasticity
	b.  Luke presents 2 choices; Note just - old v.s. new; but; rigid v.s. elastic

I.  (5:33-35) Choice one:  Mourning v.s. Rejoicing
	A.  Why were Pharisee’s and John’s disciples fasted regularly
		1.  Was not so they could diet and be healthy Jews
		2.  In THIS CASE it was a sign of mourning.  
			a.  Israel was God’s “bride” but she committed adultery
			b.  God punished bride by allowing others to take her away
			c.  Joel 2:12 - Return to me with all your heart with fasting, 
			     weeping and mourning
		3.  Mourned over sins of Israel and that kingdom not come yet
			a.  Would tear garments, not wash face
			b.  Did it on regular basis
		4.  If do it enough, then it would prepare them for kingdom
			- Had prescribe times for fasting, it was practically a “rule”
	B.  Jesus Christ liked to party all the time
		1.  If that offended you, imagine how it affect the Pharisees
			a.  They fasted and mourned as any good Jew would
			b.  Jesus and his disciples feasted and celebrated
				- burring with joy
			c.  Rigid Pharisees wanted to contain it
		2.  Jesus used wedding analogy
			a.  Don’t fast and mourn at a wedding festival
			b.  Week long celebration, food, music, laughter, joy
			c.  Bridegroom is here, mourning is over
		3.  I don’t want to disparage fasting
			a.  Jesus himself fasted in Luke 4
			b.  Jesus gave clear instructions on fasting in Matt 5
			c.  Early Christians fasted when they prayed in Acts
			d.  Fasting and prayer go together
		4.  There are times when mourning is appropriate
			a.  Jas 4:9 - Be miserable, mourn and weep
			b.  1 Cor 5:2 - Should have mourned about one living in sin
	C.  ILL:  Child asked dad if a donkey was a Christian
		1.  No, why do you ask?  Because it has such a long face
		2.  Artists rarely portray Jesus smiling or laughing
			a.  15th century writing describing Jesus
			b.  Claimed to be much older, was a forgery
			c.  But a line in it says - “no one has ever seen him laugh”
		3.  Think of him as man of sorrows, but what about joy?
			a.  Lk 15:7 - More joy in heaven over one sinner who 
			     repents than over 99 righteous who not need repentance
			b.  Heb 12:2 - Fix eyes on Jesus, who for joy set before him
			c.  Gal 5:22 - 2nd fruit of Spirit = joy
				- Never says fruit of spirit is sorrow or mourning
		4.  He is also a man of joy
	D.  Jesus never intended for Christianity to be drudgery
		1.  John 15:11 "These things I have spoken to you so that My joy 
		      may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.
		2.  Some have idea that something sinful about having fun
			a.  If hang head and mope around, that someone is holy
			b.  We should be most fun loving, happy people in the world
		3.  All you need is Christ
			a.  He said - Lo I am with you ALWAYS
			b.  He is with you
			c.  No need to spend whole life moping around
		4.  Don’t worry, be happy - because he is with you!

II.  (6:1-5)  Our Tradition v.s. His Authority
	A.  They got hungry while traveling, and no McDonalds
		1.  Dt. 23:25 - Allowed to pick neighbors grain, but not with sickle
		2.  They were hungry, and got a little snack in the field
	B.  Pharisees must have been in the fields too
		1.  Accused them of doing what it not “lawful”
			a.  Exod 20 - Remember Sabbath
			b.  Supposed to rest on the Sabbath
			c.  No work.  What is work?
			d.  Rabbi’s taught and passed down their interpretations
		2.  This tradition known as the Mishna, written down in 2nd century
			a.  Mishna has 39 classifications of work.  Some are:  
			     Sowing, plowing, reaping, making two loops, weaving two 
			      threads, tying, untying, writing two letters, extinguishing 
			      fire, kindling fire...
			b.  Mishna expands on these.  Here is an example:  “One 
			      may put a vessel underneath a lamp for the purpose of 
			      receiving the sparks falling from the lamp, but he shall 
			      not put water into the vessel, because thereby the 
			      sparks would become extinguished.”
			c.  You break these rules, you break the law
			d.  They should have made prior preparations!
		3.  But Jesus refers to 1 Sam 21:1-6, not the Mishna
			a.  David ate consecrated bread
			b.  This is not violation of rabbinic “tradition” but law
			c.  Yet, it was okay
		4.  In addition, Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath
			a.  Their traditions had no “real” authority
			b.  How offensive that must have been
	C.  ILL:  Tradition is not always a bad thing
		1.  Congregation have traditions
			a.  Traditions can help to ground and solidify faith, stability
			b.  Annual events, welcome banquets, baby dedications
			c.  Order of service, invitation, pulpit, pews, song leader
		2.  These are our traditional ways of interpreting scripture
		3.  They are not bad in themselves
		4.  Becomes a problem when you make them a matter of law
			a.  Is it sin if not have a song leader?
			b.  Is it a sin if we don’t wear a tie?
			c.  Is it a sin if sermon is 10 minutes, or two hours?
			d.  Don’t worry, I’m not advocating we do any of these
	D.  Jews had strayed from God
		1.  Ironic thing was that it was not by becoming lax as they had
		2.  It was by becoming too rigid that they forgot the heart of God
			a.  2 Cor 3:6 - So wonder Paul said the “letter kills”
			b.  The Spirit gives life
		3.  They had forgotten love, justice and mercy
		4.  Brings us to last choice

III.  (6:6-11)  Legalism v.s. Love
	A.  Jesus came to the synagogue, and they were watching him
		1.  They thought that he might try to heal on the Sabbath
		2.  They already know something about his heart
	B.  Jesus asks a multiple choice question
		1.  Lawful to do good or harm, save or destroy a life?
			a.  Faced with either or choice
			b.  Implies to do nothing would be evil
			c.  No one answers, silence, then Jesus heals
		2.  They were filled with “rage”
			a.  Grk:  “anoia”
			b.  2 Tim 3:9 - Anoia is translated as “folly”
			c.  Here is probably best translated as madness
			d.  (Jude 11) - Described those who deny Jesus Christ  v4
				- Revile things they do not understand
				- They are like unreasoning animals
				- That is what Luke is describing with anoia
		3.  Wouldn’t see past their traditionalism or legalism
			a.  They did not value the royal law (Jas 2:8)
				- Love neighbor as yourself
				- Quoted from Leviticus 19:18, not a new law
				- They didn’t care about healed man
			b.  Jesus threatened their cherished traditions
			c.  They now had Jesus under magnifying glass
			d.  Their goal was to discredit and destroy him
		4.  John 13:34-35 - New command, love as Christ loved
			a.  Jesus demonstrated how he loved here
			b.  Loving people more important than loving tradition
	C.  ILL:  Years ago a volunteer ministered among youth of a congregation
		1.  Showed a missionary motion film
		2.  Not even an hour later, leaders had him in office
		3.  Did you show a film?   
			a.  He answered yes
			b.  We don’t like that, you need to apologize
		4.  Man remarked that a missionary had showed slides before
			a.  One of the leaders held up hand and said
			b.  If it’s still, fine, if it moves sin
	D.  Wooden legalism chokes the life out of spirituality
		1.  Legalism can alienate you from God - read Galatians
		2.  When faced with choice between cherished tradition and 
		     love, which do you choose?

1.  Choice between rigid, traditionalistic legalism and Joyful authoritative love
2.  To choose his way means choosing an elastic faith
	a.  Heb. 10:19-20 - Confidence enter holy place by a new and “living” way
		- Living means its dynamic, growing, flexible
		- Are you on that new and living way?  (Invitation)
	b  (Col 3:10) - New self is BEING renewed
		- Renewal is an ongoing process
		- Means elastic faith
3.  Evidence of Elastic Faith when in Abilene
	a.  VBS at an low income apartment courtyard
		- Many of the people couldn’t get kids to church for VBS
		- A lady came up with idea of taking church to them
		- Through children, nurture meaningful relationships, let to baptism
	b.  Another person started Faith-Works
		- Basically job skills training
		- There is a long waiting list, it praised as best in town
		- Is a blatantly Christian ministry
		- Not from church budget, all resources are donated by Christians
	c.  This is outside of what people are used to
	d.  Need to think outside the box, or the wine-skin in this case
4.  Possibility thinking - I can do all things to Christ who strengthens me
	- Christianity not a bunch of don’ts, but do’s as well.

Questions for Small Group Discussion