Our word for this week is centered on misunderstanding.
The following series of advertisements reportedly appeared in a daily newspaper:
Monday: "The Rev. A.J. Jones has one color TV set for sale. Telephone 626-1313 after 7 p.m. and ask for Mrs. Donneley who lives with him, cheap."
Tuesday: "We regret any embarrassment caused to Rev. Jones by a typographical error in yesterday's paper. The ad should have read: 'The Rev. A.J. Jones has one color TV set for sale, cheap...Telephone 626-1313 and ask for Mrs. Donneley, who lives with him after 7 p.m.'"
Wednesday: "The Rev. A.J. Jones informs us that he has received several annoying telephone calls because of an incorrect ad in yesterday's paper. It should have read: 'The Rev. A.J. Jones has one color TV set for sale, cheap. Telephone 626-1313 after 7 p.m. and ask for Mrs. Donneley who loves with him.'"
Thursday: "Please take notice that I, the Rev. A.J. Jones, have no color TV set for sale; I have smashed it. Don't call 626-1313 anymore. I have not been carrying on with Mrs. Donneley. She was, until yesterday, my housekeeper.'"
Friday: "Wanted: a housekeeper. Usual housekeeping duties. Good pay. Love in, Rev. A.J. Jones. Telephone 626- 1313.'"
Ever been misunderstood?
Jesus was; often. In the eyes of those closest to him, he was 'just a carpenter's son' from Nazareth. Since he was on one of them, they couldn't figure out where such wisdom and miraculous work came from. How could a common carpenter be the Christ?
Their belief of who they thought He was or even should be became a barrier to them. And the same thing is often true of those who follow Christ today. Those who 'think' they know you and me best may well be the source of much ridicule and even rejection.
We must not be discouraged that those who are first at the door to welcome us or even warn us of potential danger may well be some of the first to leave, as well. Jesus knew what it was to be misunderstood. He knew what it was to be forsaken by the crowds who desired their belly be filled at the expense of the starvation of their soul. Jesus walked among those who would be polite and patronizing to His face only to make disparaging comments behind His back.
So how did Jesus respond and how then should we, who soon discover that daily cross bearing is not popular with the overwhelming majority? Jesus response was to continue moving forward in His purpose to invite people He loved into the family by grace in order that they might be included in the fellowship of His church by faith. Jesus didn't get 'bogged down' in having to be 'liked' by everyone he met or accepted. He knew He was accepted of the Father and that was enough. That certainty directed Jesus in loving those who patted Him on the back one day and stabbed Him in the back the next. Regardless of people's response, He moved on from those who hated Him to those who honored Him. In fact, when you take time to read in depth you will discover that Jesus didn't have a lot of close friends in this world BUT He made it a personal practice to be friendly to everyone He met. He embraced 'the risk' of being misunderstood.
Scripture says in Proverbs 18:24--"He that has friends must show himself friendly..." But being friendly to everyone is no guarantee that others will be friendly in return. Jesus was/is the friend of sinners. Yet the closer He came to Calvary, to fulfilling His divine purpose from God, the fewer 'friends' there were to give support. Ultimately, as the hymn states--"He died alone for you and me."
Some in your circle of life will always be closed minded to you, where you came from and what you say. You don't look the part in their eyes OR you don't fit the proper mold in their thinking. You're 'just a ______' (fill in the blank) and their prejudiced belief stands as a barrier to the message you share and the life purpose you are engaged in.
When that happens, and it will if you and I are following the Lord faithfully, remember Jesus' response--when those whose hearts are closed don't have ears to hear, move on to those who will hear with open hearts.
The masses will not long follow the man nor the message that is consistently centered on humility of the spirit, surrender of the soul and serving others. But the company of the few who choose to deny themselves daily and follow Him will be well worth any measure of resistance we encounter here. After all, the resistance will not be around forever but Jesus will be. And those who follow Him by faith will be as well. You'll also discover that walking with Jesus daily is not nearly as crowded and it's a lot better company, consistently!
May God bless his continuing work of grace in your continuing ministry of being misunderstood for Christ's sake!
1 Corinthians 15:58