Friday, June 3, 2011

What Do You See?

They say that familiarity breeds unfamiliarity. When we get used to something, it takes a lot more effort to look at it with fresh eyes. For instance, think about John 3:16. You've heard it so many times that rarely do you read that verse without assuming, "I know what it means." Rarely do you (or I) ask questions about what Jesus means when he says this. Familiarity breeds unfamiliarity. 

This principle also applies to people, including those we sit in pews next to each Sunday morning. When you walk into the doors of the church and see the same people getting coffee or greeting you when you drop your kids off or even sitting in your pew, waiting for you to slip in front of them to sit where you sit--you eventually assume that you know those people. And you, like me, rarely take the time to ask questions like, "What brought you joy this week?" or, "What kept you up at night this week?" 

Familiarity also blinds us to other people's unfamiliarity. In the realm of "Sunday morning church," our familiarity with where we park, where our kids go, who the pastors are, when to stand and when to sit, and even where a passage of Scripture can be found--all of this blinds us to the guest among us who has none of the familiarity we do. We forget that it takes great courage for someone to enter a church building with little to no familiarity with what happens. 

Is familiarity bad? Not at all. These principles are not laws. They do not have to be true of us. We can choose to leverage our familiarity with Scripture, church, and the people we see, to deepen relationships within the body and among those who take the courage to attempt to be a part of it. We can choose to courageously look at all the familiar things as if we were seeing them for the first time. 

That stain on the carpet? 
Where are the bathrooms? 
What does Jesus really mean? 
Why might he or she be really tired this morning? 

And when we do, we'll begin to see Sunday mornings (God, ourselves, church) through the eyes of a guest. And guests will begin to see Sunday mornings (God, themselves, church) through the eyes of God.