A Familiarity

John 17:3

“This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”

It  is an odd sensation, being alien in a place. Somehow you have lost all ability to find or understand the geography of your location. There is nothing to relate your experience to except the perceptions or rumors you here about an area, people, or even a type of place. However, I have found that the strangest feeling is finding something familiar in the midst of an unfamiliar situation.

The most common situation is when I have traveled to a place to which I have no current obligation, perception, or knowledge. I know next to nothing about how I ought to react to people, in some cases, I do not even know what could be considered rude. The sensation  bleeds over into everything about life, not just the place and not knowing what direction to go on the road, but even down to interactions, food, and yes, beverages.

Something just like this happened to me, but I had not left my state, country, or even my town. I dropped off my brothers at a swim meet in a part of town I thought I knew well. In fact, I spent nearly five hours on this side of town every week. Yet, although I had been to friend’s houses, driven to the Walmart, and visited my piano teacher for my weekly lesson, I found myself irrevocably lost within two minutes.

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How did this happen?

Well, for one I (and my family) are renowned our bad sense of direction. Actually one of my brothers drove into another state once trying to get home. I eventually had the good fortune of stepping into a grocery store and (much to my relief) finding a Starbucks inside.

I know, real basic. But think about it, after getting lost and having no idea where I was or how I was going to get back, it was a stupendous relief to find a bit of familiarity in my situation.

Second, I realized that it is possible to think you know everything about a place, a person, an object, without actually knowing anything about it. This is something I see Christians do every day. Recently, I had several different conversations in rapid succession about this very subject. The first was from my best friend. I have made it back  home from college and made it a priority to meet with my friends. She told me about how her entire family treats their faith like, “a trophy that they can put in the case and show people if necessary.” The next day, my brother told me about how frustrated he was about how people did not seem to have the ability to be genuine. Specifically, when it comes to religion and faith, he thought that too many people, “know a lot about God, but they do not know God.” 

I admit that I am the most likely to fall into this trap. For years I was convinced that I had religion down. As a speaker, I had competed in an event called Apologetics speaking. This event required the competitors to have pre-prepared 3” by 5” notecards in a box with answers to 120 different questions about God. These were not just “Who is God, where did he come from”, kind of questions either. In fact, they covered some of the most complex questions there is about the theology behind Christianity. Questions ranged from asking students to analyze Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism, to questions about sanctification, propitiation, and the omnipresence of God. Simply put, after just prepping for this event I ended up with a lot of head knowledge. The problem was I had no heart knowledge. I knew about God, but I did not know God.

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The realization that I was no longer genuine as my brother said and how I was treating God like a trophy hit me when my pastor said this:

“Christianity isn’t a religion, it’s a relationship.” -Paster Steve Holt

Along the road to learning not about God, but actually getting to know Him has been interesting. However, I would say that the coolest part of it has been finding that little bit of familiarity in the midst of a wide world of the unknown.

Just like finding a Starbucks in a place you don’t know. It’s an adventure, one that keeps on revealing new surprises tucked inside the wrapping paper of promises I knew of God, but had never truly felt.

I want to leave you with this last question:

Do you think you know everything (or a lot) about God, but not actually know Him?

Be blessed today.

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