Deadly Familiarity

Deadly Familiarity

Familiarity of the tender variety persists in reminding you of the gospel and deepening your communion with Christ. But if you’re not careful, cold-hearted familiarity will betray you with kisses, poison your wineglass, and watch impassively while your life slips steadily away. You might not even realize it’s happening. Unexamined familiarity will prevent you from looking at the Book. Because such familiarity crowds out curiosity, it imperceptibly stiffens necks, hardens hearts, and deafens ears. Familiarity may lead us to assume things that are not in the text, and it may blind us to things that are. 

If you read the gospel of Mark in one sitting you’d be shocked by what happens at the beginning of Mark 6.

Think of all that Jesus has accomplished up to this point. He has really become quite the celebrity. Crowds are following him everywhere. He is healing the sick, preaching to packed crowds, and doing things which have never been done before. He’s calmed a storm, raised the dead, and even touched a leper. He cast out demons by the word of His mouth and healed a bleeding woman that nobody else could fix. He’s done so many marvelous things that everyone is beginning to wonder, “Who is this guy?”

Is this the Rescuer? Is this the Promised One? Is this the One who is going to deliver Israel? The carpenter from Nazareth has become a big deal. Mary’s little boy has hit it big. And so when Jesus comes back to his hometown what type of reception do you figure he’ll get? Are the people from Nazareth putting up signs and billboards that says, “Home of Jesus”? Will they throw a grand parade to celebrate the fact that such a backwater place like Nazareth is now associated with this popular religious teacher? How will they respond to the local boy coming home?

It’s shocking what we read in Mark 6:1-6. Jesus doesn’t get a celebration, he gets a snub. As Jesus marvels at their unbelief, we the readers are invited to marvel as well. Why would Jesus’ hometown give him such a cold welcome?

The Law of Diminishing Return

I think it’s because of the law of diminishing return.

When you ride a roller coaster for the first time you wonder how you survived. But ride that same one for the 35th time and you’ll think it’s about as exciting as driving through Kansas. What was once feared and inspired awe is no “old hat”. You’ve been there, done that, got the T-shirt.

It’s the old saying familiarity breeds contempt. It’s a terrible thing when it happens in our personal relationships—but how much more when it happens in our relationship with the Lord. I think Peter Kroft has some great words to say about familiarity as it relates to our reading of the Scriptures and also to our relationship with the Lord. Listen:

Beware the deceptive wiles of familiarity — that sweet but double-edged virtue that makes you feel at home in the word of God.

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