You know that phrase – “Familiarity breeds contempt” – don’t you? When we know someone closely, it’s hard to think of them as uniquely gifted or talented. It is possible to completely miss the value of a friend’s advice just because they are a friend. That wisdom that comes from Mom or Dad that is so treasured by other people just sounds like the same old tired stuff we have heard them say from childhood. Our church can seem so boring or dull compared to the one two towns over because we know the patterns of our worship so well. Yes, we can overlook the love of our spouse, the stability of our home, the value of our steady job – just because those things are so close to us, so familiar, that we do not see the whole picture.
Here is something that is seriously important to remember – we can grow close to Jesus, knowing His goodness and grace for a long time and that familiarity can rob us of the wonder of faith.
Take a look at this from Matthew’s Gospel. Jesus went home to minister and when He stood up to teach in the local place of worship, at first the people were astonished, but then they grew offended. “Who does He think He is?” “Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “Only in his hometown and in his own house is a prophet without honor.” And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.” (Matthew 13:54-58, NIV)
One way to keep our faith fresh is to renew the full understanding of the revelation of Christ Jesus.
The Man of the Gospels is approachable and relatable. I love thinking of Jesus walking with His disciples, laughing in the sunshine, getting irritated with them when they were slow to learn, showing them the power of God when He stopped to heal a blind man. It’s a comforting, human, accessible mental image of my Savior, but if that is the only way I think of Him, it could be difficult to trust Him when life gets crazy or confusing.
I need to see the image of the majestic, mysterious Revelation of John, too. “On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.” I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone “like a son of man,” dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.
When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” (Revelation 1:10-18, NIV) That can just stop me in my tracks, make me draw a deep breath, and say reverentially, “Jesus, Majesty!” It’s not as comforting as thinking of the Carpenter, Mary’s Son, but it is the completed picture of the Lord of Glory who desires our full faith and complete obedience.
Let’s not make the mistake of making God too small, taming Him in an attempt to make Him accessible. If we do this, we risk growing offended when things go upside in our lives, when He (as we think of Him) does not do as we think He ought to do. C. S. Lewis, in his famed allegory of Christ, as Aslan, the lion, reminds us of the wonder. “Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…”Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe) Lord, make that my conviction – that You are powerful, not ‘safe’ but always good. Amen.
The word from the Word calls us to both mystery and love. “Therefore, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:19-23, NIV)
(one of those classic worship choruses)
Majesty worship His majesty
Unto Jesus be all glory
Honor and praise
Majesty kingdom authority
Flow from His throne
Unto His own His anthem raise
So exalt lift up on high
The name of Jesus
Magnify come glorify
Christ Jesus the King
Majesty worship His majesty
Jesus who died now glorified
King of all kings
Jack Hayford © 1981 New Spring (Admin. by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc.)
CCLI License # 810055