July 2, 2016 - Fish is Fish

The disciples of John approached Jesus and said,
“Why do we and the Pharisees fast much,
but your disciples do not fast?”
Jesus answered them …
No one patches an old cloak with a piece of unshrunken cloth,
for its fullness pulls away from the cloak and the tear gets worse.
People do not put new wine into old wine skins.
Otherwise the skins burst, the wine spills out, and the skins are ruined.
Rather, they pour new wine into fresh wine skins, and both are preserved.”

Matthew 9:14-17

There was a glaring difference between the way John the Baptist and his followers expressed their faith and the way Jesus and his disciplines expressed their faith.  While John’s apostles were always depriving themselves and making themselves uncomfortable, Jesus and his disciples ate and drank so freely some accused Jesus of being a glutton and a drunkard (Matthew 11:19).  What a lousy moral example!

In Leo Lionni’s fable, Fish is Fish, a minnow and a tadpole grow up together in a pond.  When the tadpole turns into a frog, he hops out of the pond to explore land.  He returns and describes what he saw there to his friend the fish.  The fish assumes that birds look like fish with wings and cows look like fish with udders.  He has only one frame of reference and applies his expectations to what he hears about the world from his friend the frog.  As a result, he misses the point.

We often assume faith is about self-deprivation, about being “a good person”, and about avoiding sin.  When the faithful don't exhibit these traits, we may be tempted to think faith has failed.  Nietzsche famously said he might believe in a Redeemer if his followers looked more redeemed.  Nietzsche assumed faith is about morality and, when faith failed to meet his expectations for it, he declared God dead.  He missed the point. He has poured new wine into an old wine skin.