There is a remarkable warning in Jeremiah 48:11-12:
Moab hath been at ease from his youth, and he hath settled on his lees, and hath not been emptied from vessel to vessel,
neither hath he gone into captivity: therefore his taste remained in him, and his scent is not changed.
Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will send unto him wanderers, that shall cause him to wander,
and shall empty his vessels, and break their bottles.
The way that wine was purified in ancient times was to let it sit in a vessel until the impurities settled to the bottom, and then it was poured into a new vessel. It would next be allowed to sit again until the remaining impurities had settled, and then it would get poured into another vessel. Therefore, each time it had been poured into a new vessel it would be more pure. This is also a way that the Lord uses to work the impurities out of our lives—He takes us through changes.
Sociologists have long been baffled at the extraordinary resistance many people have toward change. They are still hard pressed to explain why the child of alcoholic parents will so often marry a heavy drinker, knowing all of the pain and turmoil that can be expected. However, the fear of change is often stronger than the fear of such pain and turmoil. This fear of change is popularly referred to as "the tyranny of the familiar." It is precisely what turns Christians into "old wineskins." New wine is still expanding, and an old wineskin is one that is too rigid and inflexible to hold new wine.
It is comforting to know that the Lord never changes. However, if we are going to be like Him, most of us still have a lot of changing to do! Until we are like Him and doing the works that He did, we are not through with the process yet. Therefore, we can expect a lifetime of changing. One of the ways that the Lord keeps us flexible is to "pour us into a new vessel" whenever we start becoming too comfortable and resistant to change. We may think that the shocking changes that come into our lives are the result of the devil's attack, but even if they are, the Lord had to allow them, so we can assume that we need them. Many of these changes are possibly even the answer to our prayers to Him by not allowing us to become old wineskins.
If we would remain open to the changes He wants to bring into our lives without resisting them, including the new things He is doing that we may not understand yet, we probably would not have to endure nearly the amount of shaking that we end up having to go through. If we are wise we will learn to embrace change as the great opportunity for spiritual growth that it is. Usually when we are resistant to change it is because we are placing our security in our environment instead of in the Lord.
The Moabites were so resistant to change that the Lord had to tip over their vessels and shatter their jars. This resistance is still a reason for many church splits, and even the disbanding of churches. It is easy to discern that the unity in many churches is based more in nostalgia than the presence or the purpose of the Lord. When we get too comfortable and complacent with one group of friends, the Lord often has to shake us up, or pour us into a new vessel. This may have been a reason why the Lord had to scatter the first century Jerusalem church. The Lord is deeply concerned about the unity of His church. However, the kind of exclusive unity that many congregations fall into often causes them to neglect the unity that we must have with the rest of the body of Christ. When this happens, the Lord will often have no choice but to allow someone or something to tip the jars over.
I do not think that I know a single Christian who has not been through some kind of traumatic church problem or split. Even so, the wise do not base their vision or theology on the mistakes of the past, but learn the necessary lessons, allowing the experience to purify them so that they have a more clear vision for the future. We must continue to move forward. Every time the wine is poured into a new vessel there is a great deal of commotion, but the purity is worth it. If we respond right, the time will come when we do not put our security in our environment as much as in the Lord, and we are so flexible and teachable that He will not have to tip over our vessels or shatter our jars.