Familiarity: The Great Killer of Joy

timthumb.phpI remember the first time I watched Gladiator, (my all-time favorite movie) I was glued to the screen. Unaware of what was going on around me, zoned in on the action, wondering what Maximus would do next, how many people would he fight, and would he ever get his vengeance. The whole movie gripped my from start to the finish, taking a restroom break was not an option, checking my phone wasn’t going to happen. But something has happened in the past 14 years since it come out. I have become familiar with it, so familiar in fact that I can quote along with it as they are saying their lines. Now whenever it is on, I may still watch it, however I watch it while checking twitter, while folding clothes, or doing other chores around the apartment. Becoming familiar with it has taken away the joy of watching it for the first time and lost its awe factor.

This happens in a lot of areas in our life, I have recently noticed that after living in Dallas for a year I am no longer shocked and stare in awe when I get passed by a Lamborghini, Ferrari or Bentley. No longer do I try to grab my phone to snap a pic, or to text the friends back home telling them what just passed me. Now they are just another vehicle on the road most likely sitting in traffic on 75 just like me.

Familiarity takes that which once was amazing to us and dulls it. 

If we aren’t careful familiarity can leak into our Christianity lives, where what once amazed us and left us in awe has become so commonplace that we don’t ever stop to think about what it is we are reading or hearing, when it comes to the Gospel. Passages that use to leave us speechless such as John 3:16, we can rattle off word for word without ever dwelling on what we are saying. We can read the Gospels and see where Christ was betrayed, crucified, buried and raised, and we know the story we know what happened, and wonder ok what is next. When we lose sight of the beauty of the Gospel and the beauty of Christ our joy is gone, reading becomes a duty, worshipping becomes boring and all about what we want. This is why we must fight! Fight for joy in Christ, Fight for holiness and knowledge of knowing Him more and more. This is why Paul in most of his letters follows the same pattern, Remind them who Christ, Remind the readers what He has done from them, and then ok address an issue or encourage them. Paul knew our tendencies to drift, our tendencies become so familiar with the Story of Christ that he constantly sought to keep Christ in front of his readers, to encourage them to dwell on it, to remind them to remember what Christ has done. Such as Ephesians 2:11-22:

11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

When we take time to remember who we once were before Christ, and remember who He is and what He has done, we see His beauty again, the dullness is gone and joy arises.

“Seeing the glory of Jesus Christ in the gospel awakens joy.” ~ John Piper 


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