This Gospel passage never wasted any time in telling us what we needed to realize. The first verse in itself already struck a chord: “And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country.”
It may not be entirely true, nor can we test the validity of such a hypothesis as so-called prophets may already be extinct in this day and age. But if we are to scale it down, applying it to our own personal relationships, we oftentimes neglect to listen to people who are close to us whenever they tell us about our shortcomings, or even our triumphs.
Perhaps it’s our familiarity with them, and theirs with us. We are subconsciously bound by unwritten social contracts that require one to compliment the other for no expected reward, and we are also bound to understand the other when he or she says, “I don’t need help” or “I can deal with it”.
However, once external entities, persons who view us from an agnostic perspective, start to shower us with compliments or hit us with criticism, we tend to give a little more weight to their opinion. It is because we know that they have no reason or obligation to make us feel better or worse about ourselves.
This is probably how the countrymen of Elijah would’ve felt if he started to tell them about God. They saw, or at least assumed, that they were in the same situation, living the same daily lives. While they may not entirely reject what Elijah was telling them, they would be wary of how Elijah was suddenly talking about a very abstract concept of the workings of a Higher Being despite them learning spiritual lessons at the same rate.
But once Elijah started preaching to men neither of his nation nor kin, men who are not familiar with the way he lived, they were suddenly struck with curiosity. They probably asked, “Who is this man from another land?” “What is this God that he speaks of?” “Does he know something that we don’t?” It is probably this intrigue that gave these men more reason to mull over what he preached.
Learning lessons from other people, when our own friends have already imparted it upon us is counterproductive – it is an almost unnecessary extra step that we have to take for our personal growth. We should just stop wasting time and start listening to those who are familiar to us, and those familiar with us. The same way that the Gospel wasted no time in letting us know what we needed to know.