Jesus’ Systems Theory Lesson

Luke 5:33-39

33 Then they said to him, “John’s disciples, like the disciples of the Pharisees, frequently fast and pray, but your disciples eat and drink.” 34 Jesus said to them, “You cannot make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them, can you? 35 The days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.” 36 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. 37 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. 38 But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. 39 And no one after drinking old wine desires new wine, but says, ‘The old is good.’”  NRSV

This is one of Jesus’ more insightful parables. It is so comprehensive in its application, yet so often misunderstood. Simply stated, it is Jesus’s way of teaching systems theory to his first century audience. You don’t change systems.

You can’t change a system from the outside by giving it a new name or logo (the patch). You can’t change a system from the inside by changing the style of worship or writing a mission statement (the new wine). Systems change when enough people who make up the system change. That’s the whole point of Jesus’ teaching and ministry. Change the heart and minds of the people and, eventually, when enough changed hearts and mind reach the tipping point, the system will transform. . . . or the people will birth a new system.

We are the product of the new system the followers of Jesus birthed.

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