Familiarity breeds contempt.
That was my answer. The question asked, ” How is it that we have managed to kill gratitude in our lives? Why do we feel a sense of entitlement instead of thankfulness?” (Philippians (To live is Christ & to die is Gain), Chandler, 2011)
At the time, I was thinking of our pastors. As we know them, as we see their human frailties, as we become familiar with them and their lives, we can allow the devil to breed contempt in our hearts. It is not like we are having to sneak around to have church, or that our pastors are putting their lives on the line every day, willingly exposing themselves to be drug out into the street and killed. I think if they were, our contempt would be squashed rather quickly.
Just last week, I began thinking about the very word of God. How familiar we are with it and what ease we have accessing it. Most of us aren’t reading our Bibles in secret for fear of our lives. No longer do we need to rely on tattered pages to read the Scriptures. We can have any verse right at our fingertips electronically any time we want. No longer do I need to scour the pages of my Bible or a concordance to find the scripture I am looking for. The internet has made it only a search away.
I am not saying those are bad things. I use my Bible on my iPhone. I love Bible Gateway. But I wonder if our familiarity with the Word has allowed a level of contempt to arise. I wonder if we have lost the awe found in the sound of rustling pages? If the ease at which we can access it has caused our hearts to view it as only another book on our Kindles or our Nooks? As the tattered pages generations before us touched and turned are replaced with swipes, in some manner is the human contact with the printed Word of God is lost?
As I said, I myself use the internet for Bible study just like so many of you, but nothing replaces my Bible. The pages marked up with notes, highlights and questions. When the enemy attacks my mind, it is not my phone I sleep with under my pillow but rather my Bible, whose cover is punctured with pen holes from the boys. When my emotions overwhelm me and the tears fall, it is not my iPad or Kindle or Nook I cling to my chest, but my well-worn Bible, with its curved binding and awkwardly folded pages.
As I look into my own heart for any level of contempt, I would ask you to do the same. Do you and I still revere the Word of God or is it just another instruction manual? Are we some familiar with it we no longer see the awe and the glory of the entire thing? Do we just minimize it, shove it in our cases and walk away?
I am in no way saying one is better than the other, but I encourage you to get your hands on a real, pen and paper Bible this week. Listen as you turn the pages. Run your fingers across the words. Hold it close to your chest (trust me…it is not the same as clinging to your phone). Pretend it is the first time you have laid eyes upon and hands to it.
Then you can go back to you electronic versions.
I will still be using my iPhone and Bible Gateway.
Father God, forgive me when I have taken Your Word for granted. Forgive me for the times I have treated it with indifference instead of the regard it deserves. May our familiarity with the Word not breed contempt, but may it stir up in us the reassurance and hope You promise from beginning to end.