Recently we had the opportunity to visit a place that has howler monkeys swinging from tree to tree and communicating with one another with their signature – guttural – whooping. We were enthralled. We torqued our necks to look at them in the trees above and to take pictures for what seemed like hours. One time as I (Jeff) looked down to rub the back of my neck, I noticed that a local Nicaraguan was watching us. I tried to think about it from his perspective...it would be like our family going out for a picnic lunch at a park in the United States and then being amused if a family of tourists ran around for hours taking pictures of tree squirrels running up and down trees--all the while with a look of amazement on their faces. I would laugh to my self and probably mutter “Come on, they are just squirrels”...to me they are just squirrels and to the Nicaraguans living here, these are just howler monkeys. Anyway, realizing that this was happening, Bethany said to me: “Slap me if seeing howler monkeys ever ceases to amaze me.”
This is our human nature...we cease to be amazed by the familiar. I thought about this as I was listening to a sermon by my friend and pastor Curtis Hill (shout out to OBC in Newark DE whoo-hooo...it sounded like the howler monkeys when I did it). The sermon series is on the topic of the last 8 days of Jesus' life on earth. For those of us who have grown up hearing the Easter story for many years, it can become familiar...un-amazing. However, we can use this familiarity to our advantage if we will allow our familiarity with the big picture to give us the chance to go deeper and look at the details. God always wants to reveal more of himself, more of the details, if we seek him. May someone slap me if I ever get familiar with the Gospel. By God's grace, may it always be new and amazing to me every day.
A recent cure for my familiarity with the Gospel has been to study the book of John with 3 guys who are skeptical of the Gospel (by the way, that is OK, I have been “skeptical” my whole life), and we are doing it in Spanish. So my recommendation to you is to start a Bible study with some skeptics...in another language...it will cure your familiarity!