I am excited to have my little sister share this week, the following content about the dangers of unsuspected unfamiliarity is from her wisdom.
The thought came along as my family was traveling through the African plains trying to find wildlife. When we came upon some Zebras for the first time we all wanted to stop and take pictures of the zebras. However, as the day went along we continued to pass hundreds of zebras but never stopped and sometimes probably never even noticed them. I began to think, look at all these beautiful, intricately designed Zebras that we continue to pass and never even notice because we have become so familiar with them already, even after one time of seeing them.
I knew God was trying to teach me something within that thought but at the moment I never truly knew what He was saying. However, just recently (7 years later) I was reading from Dallas Willard something that said “Familiarity breeds unfamiliarity (unsuspected unfamiliarity) and then breeds contempt.” He related this to Jesus in that we sometimes become familiar with Jesus around us and how it sometimes looks like everything else around us and it becomes just something familiar.
My favorite part about this is how familiarity breeds UNSUSPECTED unfamiliarity.
When Jesus becomes so familiar to us, we can sometimes fall into unsuspected unfamiliarity. This made me think of not only the Zebra but of a simple bible story I taught to some children in Africa who had never heard it before. The day that I taught Noah and the Ark to the children, when I went to study it I thought, I could totally just wing this because I am so familiar with the study. However, when I went to read it I noticed I had been wrong about a small detail my entire life in the story. When I noticed this I thought, wow how unexpectedly unfamiliar I am with this passage.
Furthermore, as I taught the children, they were amazed by the story and when I heard their questions and listened to their excitement I realized I had been missing out on this story for years. I had become so familiar with it that to me it was just a common bible story with no new depth.
I was wrong, and I had become unsuspectedly unfamiliar with the story of Noah.
To me this paints an interesting picture of my life with Christ. There are times when the fact that I have known these stories and about Jesus my whole life that I completely miss out on the new depths of His Word and the new beauty that comes with a constant “unfamiliar” relationship with Him. There is no way to know the entire beauty of Christ on this earth but God gives us the constant opportunity to pursue and see Him daily. However, sadly, sometimes our biggest challenge is even seeing Him at all. When we become familiar with God, sometimes that can turn into us not really challenging ourselves to see different dynamics of our intricate God.
Related Post: A Promise. A Plan. A Purpose. For His Wonders.
His beauty remains as we saw it the first time, and we miss out on all the other intricate details of His character, grace, love, mercy and faithfulness.
I thought how that goes back to how I saw a zebra that day on safari. The first time I saw it I said “stop! Let’s look and take pictures” however after the first time the zebra was no longer intricate or different to my eyes. How similar is that to Jesus today.. we pass Him and see Him EVERYWHERE yet we just pass by because we are familiar, thinking “yeah I have seen or heard this before so there is no need to listen or see.”
Sometimes it can even happen when we are reading scripture and just pass by the familiar ones because we are pressed for time or think we already know what it says. Had I done this with the story of Noah I would have missed out on noticing something I never had before. However, instead I challenge us to really look at a zebra, a passage, and Jesus and never become too familiar.
There is always new depth, truth and new beauty waiting at every place.
Jesus is everywhere and it is time that we begin to “scrutinize the obvious.” Dig deep into those passages that are familiar and see what God has waiting that we have never noticed. Really stop and look at God around us and remember that He is more beautiful and intricate that we first remember. That is my prayer for 2018.