Psychology of relationship seems to propose that learning more about someone would lead to greater liking of him or her; especially on the ground of what people have in common.
But our daily experience proves the opposite. People do like others less and less as they know them more and more.
Perhaps you might have felt at a certain moment that you know so and so too well to like him or her. It seems that as we gather more information about people, we tend to find out some traits in them to which we take a dislike.
And we forget an important factor of life that man changes. Unfortunately this human weakness may cause us to hate what we would have liked in people in the first place.
Human history tells us that this tendency mentioned above, has filled its annals with many cases of good people rejected by those who thought they knew them best.
All these things happen in our relationships with others, because familiarity breeds contempt. Familiarity does not allow us to be objective in our judgement of people.
Whenever we think that we know others very well, we tend to underestimate their capacity to develop, change and become more gifted than what we expect them to be.
This unfortunate penchant for labelling people and limiting them and taking them for granted has been a source of many misunderstanding between different people and at all time.
In the Bible, Jesus warns us of this painful experience. ‘A prophet is not without honor, except in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.’
He said this because his hometown neighbours and friends thought they knew all about him. According to his origin that they thought they knew very well, they did not expect greatness from him.
Whenever he did or said what they did not expect of him, they thought he was exaggerating, or that he was becoming “too much for them.” On the other hand, Jesus would not fit into their stereotypical mould of the “boy next door and son of the carpenter.”
They did not know who he was in the first place. They took him for granted. This is the common mistake that we often make; by knowing one’s origin, one’s family, does not enable us to know what one can accomplish in life.
Whenever this happens to someone, he or she feels rejected. Any kind of rejection is generally unpleasant, more so when it is done by those nearest and dearest to us; then it becomes very unbearable.
All along his ministry, Jesus experienced this kind of rejection by his own people. He had to defend his position on several occasions. People questioned his power to forgive sin, his predilection for tax collectors and sinners, his ideas about fasting, his understanding of ritual purity and his power to heal on the Sabbath.
In all these situations, his neighbours were more interested in knowing the source of what he was saying. ‘Which school had attended?’
They kept on asking themselves. Jesus must have suffered most by the doubts showed by his own family when they found him squaring off with the scribes and Pharisees.
His family genuinely thought that he had gone mad and they wanted to curtail his public ministry.
This did not only affect Jesus and his ministry, but the people who were putting his cause in doubt missed a lot.
These people of Nazareth had been blinded by the wrong questions that they were asking themselves. It is true that they were considerably impressed by Jesus’ teaching like the rest of Jesus’ audience, they even admitted the miraculous nature of his deeds, but they continued to question his authority and with such an attitude, they could not move beyond their amazement and questions.
Their supposed familiarity with who Jesus was and what he could do bred an unfortunate contempt that precluded faith. And since faith was a necessary prerequisite for Jesus’ acts of power, he could not work any miracles in their midst.
The great lesson we learn from Jesus in such hard moments is that he did not alter his message nor deter his mission because of people thought if him.
In this Jesus teaches us how to behave in such difficult moments of discouragement by those who are supposed to understand our ways better than anybody else.
On the other hand, we might be on the side of those who pretend to know well other people. In that case, Jesus teaches us that it is wrong to label, limit, or take people for granted.
As man grows so he or she changes. And in fact to grow is to change often. Moreover what we may perceive as a weakness in those we know well might be the special venue for God’s special surprises. In any case, no man should be taken for granted.