The Addiction of the Familiar

(This blog was originally posted by Jean-Marie Jobs on March 4th, 2013)

2016-03-09_0612Familiarity, ah yes, we love it and ultimately, we find it does, as Shakespeare asserted, breed contempt.  How are we addicted to the familiar, the known, the safe, the predictable?  For myself, I notice that I look for the familiar because it seems comfortable, ‘right’, as it should be.  As a matter of fact, I would assert that we are addicted to the familiar.  I like what I know, even if I don’t’ like it!  When I travel, I constantly find myself looking for things that I am familiar with, what I already know.  Often, it takes me awhile to adjust, which means I become familiar with what’s new and then look for more of that.  It is subtle, even down to scanning the menu for familiar dishes!

What is familiar seems right to us, the way it should be, the way it’s always been.  Consider the wisdom in Proverbs:

There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”  Proverbs 14:12 NIV

Matthew Henry writes in his commentary of this Scripture: We have here an account of the way and end of a great many self-deluded souls. Their way is seemingly fair: It seems right to themselves; they please themselves with a fancy that they are as they should be, that their opinions and practices are good, and such as will bear them out. The way of ignorance and carelessness, the way of worldliness and earthly-mindedness, the way of sensuality and flesh-pleasing, seem right to those that walk in them, much more the way of hypocrisy in religion, external performances, partial reformations, and blind zeal; this they imagine will bring them to heaven; they flatter themselves in their own eyes that all will be well at last.

How often do we consider that what we think is ‘right’ may be something else entirely?  Are we challenging what we know and discovering what is unseen?  How do we ‘renew our minds’ as the Scripture calls us to in Romans 12 if we remain addicted to the familiar?  Perhaps the contempt that familiarity breeds is contempt for God, for His ways, for anything other than what think, what we want, and what we prefer.