Where Is It?
There is a stalker behind every Christian.
This stalker is with you when you walk into the doors of church every Sunday, sit down with your small group during the week, and even with you when you are alone reading your Bible and praying in the calm of the morning. Who is this stalker, you ask?
Familiarity is the thing that wishes to drain you of your awe of God. You see, the reason familiarity is so dangerous is because it is invisible. You can't see it. What is even scarier is the fact that you don't know you've been subjected as prey to familiarity until it's too late.
The reality is that familiarity is around all of us and if we are not careful, we will become its prey.
What Is It?
So what is this dreaded familiarity? Familiarity by definition is a 'relaxed friendliness or intimacy'. The reason familiarity is so dreadful is because God is so awesome, and when we begin to think of Him as anything less, our Christian devotion wanes. What used to excite you about God, is now trivial. What used to move you to tears, now is dull. What once convicted your heart, now slides through your mind. The God you once loved with adoration has turned into indifference.
"The reason familiarity is so dreadful is because God is so awesome, and when we begin to think of Him as anything less, our Christian devotion wanes."
Familiarity is a terrible thing in the life of a Christian because it robs you of your awe of God. You become relaxed in your walk with Him. You don't seek after Him like you once did. You have a relaxed intimacy with God.
What Do I Do?
Maybe you are reading this and you find yourself in a position of familiarity with God. You can't seem to muster up a desire to serve Him, read about Him, pray to Him, etc. So what do you do? Three things...
1. Get Honest.
Confess to God your familiarity with Him. Confess your lack of desire to treat Him as God and to adore Him. Then, call up a Christian friend and tell them where you are at. Be honest about your familiarity with God and what you want to be different.
2. Dig In.
Familiarity doesn't happen overnight. Familiarity happens in little steps. You read your Bible as a text to be studied rather than a treasure to be adored. You pray to receive blessings than to receive grace. You serve God out of a heart to gain merit than a heart that loves Him. The way you change this is by pleading with God to change your heart. Ask Him to change you as you commit yourself to the discipline of reading His Word and praying even when you don't feel like it. Read books that help you catch a glimpse of the awesomeness of God. Commit to these things.
3. Live In Community.
Familiarity is slain when we live in real Gospel-centered community. Surround yourself with people who will daily remind you of who God is and what He has done for us in the Gospel. Have dinner with these people, invite them into your home, etc. True community is built by people who serve one another by reminding each other of the awesomeness of God.
Familiarity is knocking at the door of every Christian and the only way we can ever hope to stay away is by diving deeper into the awesome message of the Gospel. Dive deep, my friends.
I was recently able to ask Author Kyle Idleman a few questions about his new book recently released entitled The End of Me. A transcript of the interview is listed below.
Brad: Kyle, you have authored multiple books including best-seller Not a Fan, you are a pastor at Southeast Christian Church, a presenter for City on a Hill Productions. Tell me a little bit about your background, and what drives you as you continue to serve the church.
Kyle: Whether it’s preaching a sermon, writing a book, or a producing a film I am passionate about connecting Scripture to a person’s life at just the right time. A number of yeas ago I learned that what encourages me as a communicator more than anything else is seeing one life at a time experience the difference that Jesus makes. While all three mediums of communication overlap I’ve also learned that there is no substitute preaching to real live people. When I can look them in they eyes as they encounter God’s Word it helps me see how God is a work and how I can join him through writing and producing.
Brad: As you’ve grown in your faith, which authors and books have been influential on you and your writing?
Kyle: I really appreciate the way you asked that question because different writers have been especially influential in different areas of my life. It’s hard for me to choose one or two over the others. But I’m challenged when I read the way Brennan Manning talks about following Jesus. I’m moved when I read the way Phillip Yancey describes grace. I’m convicted when I read the way John Ortberg talks about me. The two books I’ve especially loved this year: “God for the Rest of Us” by Vince Antonucci and “Messy Grace” by Caleb Kaltenbach.
Brad: What sparked you to write your newest release The End of Me?
Kyle: Years ago I was taught the simple truth that what God does through you, he does in you first. I have certainly found that to be true in my own life. There have been times I have tried to let God work through me, while resisting his work in me and it hasn’t turned out well. So my commitment as a pastor and an author is to daily ask God what he wants to do in me and then I ask God how he wants to work through me. Each chapter represents some work God has been doing in me, although I have often resisted every step of the way. For example the chapter “Weak to be Strong” focuses on how God’s power shows up most dramatically in our weaknesses and inadequacies. When I refuse to be vulnerable because of pride or fear and instead try to mask my weakness I miss out on an opportunity to experience his strength. Coming to the end myself means that I am going to not just be honest about my weakness, but I’m going to delight in them. Each of the chapters in this book speaks to some kind of work that God has been doing in my own heart and life. My prayer is that this book will help others on their journey to the end of themselves so that they can discover the real life in Christ that waits for them.
Brad: The End of Me focuses on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, what are the major truths readers with take away from your book?
Kyle: The natural tendency is for me to think that the best and most fulfilling life is all about me. I am drawn to messages that promise to advance me or promote me. Intuitively, it just makes sense that I will be the happiest when I am at the front of the line, get the biggest piece of cake at the party, and receive applause as I stand in the spotlight. But Jesus came with a message that was upside-down from what we are constantly told and how we personally feel. For example, he taught that the last will be first, the broken will be blessed, and the humble will be exalted. Because his teachings are often so paradoxical we try to filter them and take a more reasonable and measured approach. But Jesus made it clear that an invitation to live for him is an invitation to die to myself. It may not make sense; it may not feel right, but the abundant life that Jesus offers is found at the end of me.
Purchase The End of Me by clicking here
I am a Husband to Clarissa, Pastor at Liberty Baptist Church, reader of many books, and tweeter at @brad_merchant.