The Danger of Familiarity

Tom Pennington |

December 11, 2018


The teaching of Jesus Christ produces very different responses from different people.

The religious leaders and people of Nazareth were amazed at Jesus teaching, His wisdom, and His power, but they simply couldn’t reconcile those things to what they knew of Him from His childhood and His youth, His occupation, and His family.

They could not believe that He was anything more than a carpenter. Their hearts became like stone to the truth He taught.

No guarantee

Intimate knowledge of Jesus and the Gospel is no guarantee of faith and salvation; in fact, familiarity can be an enemy. You can go to church and sit in thousands of services. You can hear thousands of Sunday School classes. You can learn hundreds of songs. You can memorize hundreds of verses. But when there is familiarity without faith, Jesus becomes common and ordinary. Pedestrian.

A warning

Here is a warning if you grew up in Christian home.

You can hear about Christ week after week, and grow too familiar with Christ. There’s no sense of fear, no sense of wonder, and no sense of urgency. Instead, there is only complacency. That’s a dangerous place to be.

Jesus is not ordinary. He’s not common. He is extraordinary. The Gospel record makes it clear that He is incomparable. He is all-powerful, He is God’s unique Son, He alone has the truth, and only He can rescue you from your sin. He’s the only thing worth living for, the only way to God, the only truth, and the only source of life.

I plead with you. Don’t let your familiarity with Jesus remove either the wonder of who He is from your heart, or cause you not to fear Him with the fear He deserves.

This story reminds us that if Jesus faced unbelief during His lifetime, so will we as we present the Gospel today. The people who grew up with Jesus Christ didn’t believe. Don’t expect anything else. Jesus said if they hated Him, they’ll hate you. Expect that, and be surprised when they don’t.

Don’t ever lose hope

But also be encouraged by this story. There is hope for everybody you know. It’s hard to be more familiar than growing up with Jesus in the same family. And yet, two of Jesus’ brothers ended up writing letters that are in our New Testament. The first is James, the leader of the Jerusalem church. The other is Judas, who wrote the NT letter “Jude.” Jude begins, “Jude, a slave of Jesus Messiah, and brother of James, to those who are called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ.”

Don’t ever lose hope for those in your life who, like those in Jesus’ life, reject everything you stand for: reject Him, reject you, and reject the Truth.

Don’t ever lose hope, because there’s power in the Gospel and in God’s sovereign grace.