Sunday, October 17, 2010

Things that get on my nerves: overfamiliarlity

What it is.
Treating someone who is above you as your peer or lesser. For example, speaking about God as your buddy, your aunty as your sister, your teacher as your brother, a child speaking to an adult as if they were the same age, a young schmuck critiquing Don Carson, offering advice to those more experienced than you.

Why it is bad.
It is disrespectful. It is annoying. It makes me think you've got boundary issues and don't know where you stand in the world.

Oh no! I think I do that! How can I change?
Listen to what God says:
1Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, 2older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity. (1 Tim 5)
Notice that we don't treat older people as brothers and sisters? That is presumptuous. We treat them as mothers or fathers. We keep some respectful distance. Honour them. But younger people, people below us in the pecking order, we elevate them to the position of brothers and sisters, thus lowering ourselves.

And with God?
It is hugely condescending for God to call himself our father. For us to be his children. But father is still a position of honour - more so 2000 years ago than now. Don't forget it.


  1. You still get to rebuke an older person, just not harshly..

  2. Yeah. Just don't be a schmuck about it.

  3. And yet He calls us his friends. Ah, a tension in life, much like His being 3 and 1 at the same time. :-)

  4. Jesus calls me one of his friends. That's different to me calling Jesus one of my friends. I call Jesus my Lord and Master. Yes, he is my friend, but he's so much more than that and the friendship is so uneven. He is a true friend to me, I am mostly a traitor to him.

  5. Great stuff, Simone, absolutely on the money.

  6. Yes indeed. That says it all really.

  7. So guys, is overfamiliarity on the rise or am I just noticing more as I get older?

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  9. Well, I don't remember being a schmuck when I critiqued Don Carson when I was younger, so it's definitely gotten worse as we've cantered through our 30s.

    I blame Octavius Caesar. Or possibly Angel.

  10. I think critiquing is the wrong word. Arguing is probably what I mean.

    Octavius Caesar has a lot to answer for.