Familiarity vs. Knowledge

Familiarity vs. Knowledge

There is a difference between familiarity and knowledge. The people of Nazareth were familiar with Jesus. He had grown up there. His family was there. This familiarity led them to dismiss Jesus, to denigrate the possibilities and wonders He could within them. What they thought they knew was more of an impression that pigeon-holed Him and kept their expectations low. Mark 6:6 tells us that Jesus was amazed at their lack of faith. Indeed, He could not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith, which, in essence became a self-fulfilling prophecy for them: “See, He’s no big deal. We were right.” They were familiar, but didn’t know Him.

This got me thinking about how we can be in the church so long, listening to sermons and reading our Bibles, and becoming so familiar with Jesus, yet still not know Him. Familiarity leads to a been-there-done-that attitude; knowledge of who He really is leads to increasing wonder. Familiarity dulls our faith because we become satisfied with our limited, controllable expectations; knowledge increases our faith that He can do above and beyond all we can ask or imagine. Familiarity leads to complacency; knowledge leads to expectancy. Those contented with familiarity lead small lives, while those who grow in the knowledge of the Lord live victorious, dynamic lives, even if they are confined to a sick room or labor behind the scenes.

We would be wise to examine ourselves and determine if we have become too “familiar” with Jesus and think we have Him all figured out, in alignment with our meager expectations, or if we are growing to truly know Him, finding Him to be beyond our wildest imagination, full of wonder, awed by His love, wisdom, power, and majesty. If we settle for the former our lives will be like Nazareth: a place of little faith, few miracles, and no understanding of Who was standing before them.

If we are unsure in which camp we lie, we should ask ourselves what the Lord has done, or what we have discovered of Him recently that has surprised, convicted, or thrilled us lately. If we haven’t been amazed by Him regularly, we would do well to ask the Lord to open our eyes, our hearts, and our lives to know Him, truly know Him in more personal and real ways.