In my last posting I talked about routines and habits and how agape, because one definition is love in action, can be integrated into our lives as a routine and habit, making it part of everything we do. However, there is an important context to routines and habits that we need to discuss.
Jesus told his disciples that new wine must be put into new wineskins. An old skin cannot hold the pressure of the new wine. It will break it and you will lose both the wine and the wineskin (Matthew 9:17. Mark 2:22, Luke 5:37-38). In the same way, agape cannot be put into our old habits and routines. The old man cannot be remodeled. It would be a whited sepulcher, death merely painted over with a temporary veneer of apparent goodness, just as Jesus noted in some of the Pharisees.
We cannot reform our old life, our old self. Though it is still with us, it is already dead and passing away. Instead it is the new wineskin of our new creation that is meant to hold the agape of God. Another way to look at this is that the agape of God is also the rock of God, upon which we are broken. The old man’s heart of stone, is broken on the rock of the love of Christ, making way for the new man, the heart of flesh that will embrace the fullness of God.
So, part of the key of agape is that it breaks the old and fills the new. Our old routines and habits give way to new routines and new habits. Sin gives way to righteousness, rebellion to submission, and in the end, death to life.
My prayer for everyone who reads these meditations during Lent is that wherever they are in the process of putting out the old and bringing in the new, they will be encouraged to keep their hand to the work and be persistent, in season and out of season, when they see the results and when they don’t, because God, our loving Father, is always at work in us, deep in our hearts, in places we cannot see. What we and everyone else will see is the evidence of that change as it bears fruit in our lives.
Grace and peace be yours as you persevere on the journey.