No one wants their faith to look like canned Christianity, but sometimes that’s what familiarity with Jesus breeds.
Take Philip, one of Jesus’ twelve disciples. He witnessed Jesus’ miracles and heard His sermons. Jesus personally discipled him. You could say Jesus was familiar to him. Even so:
Although Philip walked with Jesus, ate with Him — lived with Him for three years, he didn’t fully understand who Jesus was. Seems incredible, but let’s not dismiss this as a “dense disciple” moment. Philip was the real deal. He was an authentic Christian who was deeply devoted to Jesus. Yet, somehow he’d missed the point and failed to recognize Jesus’ full identity: God incarnate. The Almighty.
As I thought about Philip, it struck me:
- We too can walk with Jesus — and not fully grasp who He is.
- We too can become so “familiar” with the Jesus we think we know, that we fail to recognize the Almighty God who walks beside us.
- We too can fall into canned Christianity.
3 ways to avoid the trap
1) Study Scripture systematically. Sometimes we approach the Bible in a way that sets us up for misunderstanding who Jesus is. Today’s culture digests information in short, pithy punches, but studying Scripture in bits and pieces leads to a fragmented view of God. Studying Scripture in bits and pieces leads to a fragmented view of God. Click To Tweet Studying Scripture systematically (studying a whole book of the Bible before moving on to another one) brings those pieces together. It presents a complete picture of God that includes all His attributes, not just the familiar ones.
2) Seek Him and listen to what He says. Sounds obvious, but are we seeking Jesus until He personally reveals Himself to us through Scripture? How much time do we spend listening to Him in prayer? This is where the disciples stumbled: they didn’t really listen to what Jesus taught about Himself. John 10:30, John 10:33, Luke 9:35. The result was confusion and fear when their preconceived ideas about Jesus crumbled under the weight of reality and suffering.
3) Spend time with His people. Since God’s Spirit indwells His people, every Christian reflects various aspects of His nature and heart. The spiritual insights He shares about Himself with each of us in our varying situations and struggles provides a treasury of knowledge about God’s nature. There’s so much we can learn from each other!
Knowing Jesus and understanding His true nature takes more than familiarity with Him; it takes an intimate knowledge born of saturating ourselves in Scripture, prayerful listening to what He reveals about Himself, and learning from others.
It takes allowing God to challenge our comfortable ideas about Jesus to replace them with who Jesus really is: Immanuel. GOD with us.
How about you? What do you do to help your knowledge and love for Jesus grow?
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