‘Knowing about him’ versus ‘knowing him’
Jesus returns to Nazareth and is rejected by his own people. I began to wonder why. What was it about him that frightened them? Clearly, he posed a threat.
And then I asked myself the same question because he frightens me too. And it has something to do with knowing him versus knowing about him. I, too, know all about Jesus. I have been learning about him since I was a child. And then in the seminary and in Theology school. And I even preach about him. ‘Knowing about him’ is no skin off my nose. ‘Knowing him’ is what I find difficult.
He actually frightens me. He is too challenging. He asks too much. I find that I follow him at a distance. I sort of move away from the challenge of getting to know him. It’s easier to shift focus. So, we focus on externals instead and start complaining about how things have changed: how Ireland has changed; how the media is so hostile; how there is so much indifference to the Christian message; how things were different on the missions or in Brazil or wherever but here.
I find myself in sympathy with the people of Nazareth. They know all about him too. He can’t possibly be other than what they remember about him and his family. Why would they allow his wisdom to interfere with their memories of him? After all, surely, it’s much easier having a carpenter around the shop than a prophet loose around town. Once a carpenter, always a carpenter!
And yet, there is this uncomfortable tug-of-war within me that says ‘knowing about him’ is the easy part. It keeps him at a good distance where I can handle him safely.
‘Knowing him’, well, that’s going to cost!
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