Familiarity Breeds Contempt - The Warrior's Journey®

Familiarity Breeds Contempt

Author: Chaplain, COL Scott McChrystal, USA (Ret.)

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“‘Where did this man get these things?’ they asked. ‘What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing?  Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?’ And they took offense at him.”  (Mark 6:2-3)  

Where did you grow up?  Were there any famous sights near your hometown – the kind which people come from all over the world to visit? Did you visit them? My wife grew up in Jersey City, NJ. Just across the Hudson River was a plethora of famous sights. Did she visit them?  Not as a young person. She couldn’t understand the “big deal” people were making about these sights. For instance, she didn’t visit the Statue of Liberty until she was her fifties and had moved away. We tend not to appreciate the things we grow up with. Familiarity breeds contempt. 

I have a friend who’s a fellow Army chaplain. He’s also an exceptionally gifted counselor and scholar. But he once told me, “Family are Kryptonite.”  He meant that, no matter much he achieved academically and no matter how far he climbed the professional ladder, one visit to his family was enough to sink him. His family had no regard for any of his accomplishments.  Their familiarity bred contempt and blinded them to the potential locked away in their brother.   

This was Jesus’ experience upon returning to His “hometown.”  They didn’t understand that Jesus’ true hometown was Eternity. “Who does Jesus think He is?  He’s only the carpenter, the son of Mary and the brother of James, Judah, and Joseph.”  They were like people who grew up around the Grand Canyon, Yosemite Valley, or Yellowstone National Park, but never appreciated them. Almighty God had come to live in their crumby little town, and they never even acknowledged Him. As John said, “He was in the world and the world was made by Him, but the world did not know Him” (John 1:10). 

We have all grown up with God. All around us we can see – if we’d only look – the incredible complexity of every living thing – complexity that can only come from a Supreme Creator.  We’ve grown up on a planet that is perfectly situated in the solar system and equipped with everything we need for a safe habitation – things so conspicuously absent on every other planet. But we’re oblivious to all God’s blessings and all the signs of His love and care for us.  It’s time for us to wake up, open our eyes, and begin to give thanks to the Christ who loves us, cares for us, and died to save us.   


  • Which of God’s blessings are you overlooking? Count them, name them. 
  • Which of God’s attributes are you ignoring? His love, faithfulness, mercy, patience, wisdom, or power? 
  • Let’s stop ignoring God. Let’s cease making Him stand in line before we give Him the attention and gratitude He deserves. 

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