“Familiarity”

If, as the old maxim states, “familiarity breeds contempt,” would not the opposite reaction be true also?  Most of us own an old coat or comfortable shoes that we don’t scorn or disdain.  In fact, don’t we feel the same attitude of comfort and affection towards friends, brethren and even cars, homes and other physical things?  It would seem that contempt begins when one starts to treat the familiar as insignificant and no longer worthy of personal attention and cultivation.  When we are thoroughly familiar with a topic or object we can sometimes expect others to quickly adopt our interest and involvement.

I still vividly recall the lesson I learned years ago while taking a class for Spanish teachers.  In order to show us how difficult a new language was for beginning pupils, we were made to try to memorize and repeat Greek phrases.  Whew! Lesson learned!

This lesson was certainly reinforced recently when a young Chinese woman showed up at Wednesday night Bible study.  She saw our Web page and brought her Chinese Bible and a real courage considering she learned her English in school.  Obviously she still has many cultural and language hurdles to overcome but it would be overwhelming to put ourselves in the reverse situation.  I’m sure that if she is brave enough to return, we will only gain new admiration for such tenacity.

Jesus certainly upset the familiarity of most of the Jewish religious leaders of his time.  He knew the Old Testament thoroughly but didn’t let that lead him to contempt for it.  He used the same scriptures that they should have known to teach them heavenly lessons as he explained to Nicodemus. (Jo 3:10-15) However, many of them refused to see or hear any deviation from the familiar. (Mk 4:11-12) In fact, they accused Jesus of driving out demons by the prince (Satan) of demons. (Mt 9:34) Jesus quickly rebutted their contempt. (Mt 12:25-28) If a Christian is familiar with the Bible and worships God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength, he will avoid the trap that leads to contempt. (Mk 12:30-31)

—Jim Bailey