It’s said that familiarity breeds contempt. And who can’t think of cases where that has been true? Instances where someone made an amazing first impression, but the more you got to know them and their shortcomings, the more you realized that they too were just human. At the least, the shine wore off, and the esteem you initially held them in faded. At worst, what you once liked about them, you eventually found distasteful.
But not everything we’re used to do we necessarily grow to disrespect. More often it’s that someone or something becomes commonplace, old hat, familiar territory–less about breeding contempt, more about being subject to complacency.
And the problem quite often isn’t with the object of our initial affection, but with our tendency towards the erosion of awe. For example, the first time you see Mt. Rainier it takes away your breath. But live in its shadow day after day, and more often than not you barely notice it. Not necessarily holding it in contempt, but certainly cooling to its grandeur and majesty.
Same can be true of our salvation. Same can happen to our awe of the Savior. Something I read this morning in Isaiah has me chewing on that.
Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
(Isaiah 43:19a ESV)
Amid Isaiah’s prophetic warnings are scattered promises of redemption. To a people who were determined to give their back to God, God says I’m still prepared to let My face shine upon you. And says, the Lord, I’ll do it in a new way. In a way you didn’t see coming.
Behold My Servant, whom I uphold, My Chosen, in whom My soul delights . . .
(Isaiah 42:1a ESV)
Though eventually Messiah will reign with justice as King over all the earth, initially He would come as God’s Servant. Meek and lowly. Not crying aloud. Not raising His voice. Not breaking the bruised read nor quenching the faintly burning wick (42:1-3). But quietly, humbly, coming to bring redemption. To open eyes once blind, to free prisoners from their bondage, to bring into light those used to wandering around in darkness (42:7).
And this, He declared, would be done in a new way. An unexpected way. Really, an unimagined way. A way described in my reading in Hebrews this morning.
For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. Therefore He is the mediator of a new covenant . . .
(Hebrews 9:13-15a ESV)
Behold I am doing a new thing. An unimagined thing. An outrageous thing. A thing so far off the charts that for many it is too much to be believed.
Behold My Servant. The mediator of a new way, based on a new promise, giving new life, and founded on a new work–the likes of which conceived of only in heavenly realms.
The way opened through the offering of Himself. Through the shedding of His own blood. Through the giving of His own incarnate life as the once for all payment for the debt of sin we could never pay.
Not only redeeming us, but renewing us as well. Regenerating us. Birthing us anew into life, true life. Freed from dead works that we might be able to serve the living God!
Behold I am doing a new thing!
Every morning, He is doing a new thing. The work begun, being completed. The promises made, being fulfilled. The hope set before us, getting ever closer.
This isn’t some ho-hum, blah-blah-blah, go through the motions religious regurgitation. Behold this is a new thing.
Oh Father, keep me from complacency. May the wonder of Your mercy never become commonplace. May the glory of Your Son never become familiar. Keep me from contempt.
By Your grace. For Your glory.