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On your Mark

A new way

No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, he pours new wine into new wineskins. (Mark 2:21,22, NIV)

Sylvan Goldman died in 1948 at the age of 86, leaving an estate conservatively valued at more than $200 million. You probably have never heard of him, but you’ve used his invention.

Goldman owned a grocery store in Oklahoma City, and one evening in 1937 he was thinking about how to improve slow sales. Two folding chairs stood against a wall in his office, and an idea hit him.

With the help of a mechanic, Fred Young, Goldman designed the first shopping cart, based on the folding chairs. They put wheels on the bottoms of the chair legs and two baskets stacked in between the chairs. Later they designed the present-day nesting carts that fold into one another.

The enterprising grocer then attempted to lure shoppers through newspaper advertisements ballyhooing a “new device.” The ad read, “Can you imagine wending your way through a spacious food market without having to carry a cumbersome shopping basket in your arm?”

No one wanted to use them. So, he placed another ad proclaiming, “Shoppers came, saw, and said, ‘It’s a wow!’ ” Goldman later said of the ad, “It was the biggest lie.”

Finally, Goldman hired men and women to walk up and down the aisles of his store pretending to grocery shop. That proved successful. Today, multiplied millions of carts go up and down the aisles of stores all over the world.

The critics of Jesus’ day were like the reluctant cart users in Goldman’s store. They didn’t like what Jesus introduced — a new way of life. Their idea of religion was regulation — doing your best to follow hundreds upon hundreds of man-made rules.

Jesus chose not to reform that kind of system, saying that you cannot put unshrunk cloth on shrunk cloth or new wine in old wine skins. He came — not to put more rules on us — but to bring us into relationship with God.

Before Goldman, shopping had been hard. One had to carry groceries in a basket on the arm. Goldman made it easy.

That’s what Jesus did for us. We can never be good enough for God no matter how hard we try. So, Jesus came and said, “Let Me do it for you.”

The new wineskin and the unshrunk cloth are metaphors for the gospel, the good news! This good news has set us free from the law of sin and death. It has brought us into relationship with God by grace through faith rather than works through law.

Salvation is a gift, not a paycheck for working hard. Jesus gave us a better way to live!

A prayer of response:
Lord Jesus, thank You for giving me what I could never give myself — forgiveness, salvation, eternal life. I follow You today not because I have to, but because I want to. Your love draws so much more from me than the drudgery of duty ever could.

GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.

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