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Misunderstood

Jesus came to represent the Father; to show the world what he was like. But it was an uphill battle from the start. The religious establishment misunderstood the Messiah’s birth and mission. They accused Jesus of being an impostor. The Romans suspected him of being an anarchist and insurrectionist. And even John the Baptist questioned if Jesus was really who he claimed to be. Jesus was misrepresented on every side, but he remained true to his purpose.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come” (Luke 4:18-19, NLT).

How does it feel to be misrepresented and to have people say things about us that aren’t true? It hurts. But when we realize that Jesus experienced the same thing, only to a much greater degree, at least we know we’re in good company.

Susan Gaddis illustrates how we can respond when someone misrepresents us. While it shouldn’t be viewed as an instant game changer, it’s a great way to put a positive spin on what could be a real downer. The strength of her premise is based upon the idea that if Jesus was misrepresented throughout much of his ministry, we can learn to view the times when we are as expected parts of our spiritual journey. Here it is:

“Being ‘right’ is not an issue with me. I will allow myself to be perceived as ‘wrong’ even when I feel I am right. I will not try to overly explain myself or defend my opinion. I know that Jesus understands me and can represent me when he feels it is needed. ____________ perception of me cannot hold me in bondage.

Therefore, I release _____________ from my own personal judgments and expectations. I give them permission to misunderstand and misrepresent me. I give them permission to disagree with me.

When ___________ misunderstands, misrepresents, disagrees, or rejects me, it is his problem, not mine. I will listen to his opinion and seek to understand what he is stating. I will honor him by briefly explaining my position, but if he still does not see the situation from my perspective, then I refuse to make his opinion my problem. His opinion will not steal my joy or dictate my emotional state. I will refuse to allow my thoughts to be consumed with his problem.

When I feel frustrated and angry over an issue that I feel is being misunderstood or misrepresented by _______________, I will “pour out my complaint” before the Lord and leave it there! (Psalm 142:1-7). Therefore, the problem no longer rests upon my shoulders, but has been declared to be ______________ problem and/or the Lord’s problem.”1

If our goal in life is to be clearly understood and valued for what we believe, we will eventually be disappointed. No matter how succinct or clear we think we are, some will misunderstand us and completely miss what we are trying to say. Or worse yet, others may deliberately twist our words to try and harm our reputations. It’s OK. It happened to Jesus, and it will certainly happen to those who profess to follow in his steps.

“After they had nailed him to the cross, the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice. Then they sat around and kept guard as he hung there. A sign was fastened above Jesus’ head, announcing the charge against him. It read: ‘This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.’ Two revolutionaries were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. ‘Look at you now!’ they yelled at him. ‘You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. Well then, if you are the Son of God, save yourself and come down from the cross'” (Matthew 27:35-40, NLT)!

Even though Jesus had said that his kingdom was not of this world, they nailed a sign over his head that read, “King of the Jews.” And he was crucified between two revolutionaries, which made it appear they were all being punished for trying to overthrow the Roman government. To all appearances it looked like Jesus’ mission had been to start an insurrection.

When Jesus died, it was a dismal day for his followers. Jesus had been spurned by the religious establishment. The Romans were still in charge. Judas had committed suicide. The disciples had no jobs or source of income. And Jesus was dead. To the disciple’s thinking, this wasn’t the way it was supposed to end.

Fortunately, things are not always as they appear. We are able to see those events now from a different vantage point, and what a difference it makes.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take” (Proverbs 3:5-6, NLT).

1. Susan Gaddis, “Hot to Talk to Yourself When You are Misunderstood or Rejected.” ViaSusanGaddis.net

Rich DuBose writes from Northern California.

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About Rich DuBose

Rich DuBose

is director of Church Support Services for the Pacific Union Conference.

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