Familiarity Breeds Contempt?
More Meditating Out Loud
The old saying tells us that FAMILIARITY BREEDS CONTEMPT. As I’ve been meditating on kingdom hospitality this month, I tried to challenge that old proverb. I want to believe that familiarity breeds respect. Familiarity breeds intimacy. Familiarity breeds compassion, understanding, honor, trust.
Maybe those things are also true, but God showed me something today. Here it is, and hold on to your hats! Genius alert! Genius alert!
“The more you get to know someone, the more you think you know them.”
Brilliant, right? I thought so. I made it up!
But seriously, don’t we think that the longer we’ve been around someone, the more we understand their motivations? What makes them tick? Even more dangerous, we are far more willing to let the person with whom are ARe familiar represent a whole group of which they seem to be a part.
Hospitality reminds us that everyone around us is a broken image of God. God is looking out their eyes at us, and that means that no matter how long we’ve been around someone, we must never let ourselves believe that we have encompassed their identity with our understanding. As Christians, we embrace Someone inherently mysterious, and we must learn to see that mystery in everyone we meet.
Love offers our selves to the other without demanding anything from them. Love offers our selves to the other WHILE SIMULTANEOUSLY honoring (even revering?) their other-ness. Even after 3 years, even after the resurrection, Jesus is still a stranger to his closest companions. How then can we (who barely understand why the person in our mirror does things!) pretend to understand why others act as they do?
Love HOPES all things!
God is in the new person at your office. Welcome them.
God is in the cranky colleague who has lived in their cubicle for twenty years. Stop pretending to understand them. Love them.
God is in your preacher, when he pleases your ears AND when he makes you uncomfortable.
God is in that old dinosaur of a deacon who hates clapping and loves Leroy Brownlow books. Stop pretending you know why they think what they think.
God is in that “change agent” who sits on your pew and scares you with their ideas about “spirit and truth.” Stop pretending you know why they think what they think.
God is in the stranger that makes you uncomfortable, the young man dating your daughter, the blue-haired young woman on the back pew AND the blue-haired elders’ wives up front.
God is in the people living in the neighborhood you avoid.
God is in the person whom you silently BEG not to sit by you.
Contempt destroys any hope of love. Stop pretending and SEE! And then LOVE!
in HIS love,