My semi-mischievous sense of humor allows me deep appreciation for pictures like the one above. Props and credits to whoever coined that one. I’m not sure Jesus hated figs, but I know he didn’t hate…well…you know. But seeing this picture, and thinking about all the times we say one thing only for people to hear us saying another got me to wondering…
Do you ever feel misinterpreted?
I do. Frequently.
But more notably, I encounter other people everyday who feel misinterpreted. Traditionally-minded Christians feel misinterpreted by LGBT folks when they are called biggots for believing the Bible calls for a stricter sexual ethic than their more liberal counterparts. LGBT people feel misinterpreted when their requests to be treated like everyone else are spun as an agenda to destroy morality, families, or marriages. Gay Christians who choose celibacy because of devotion to spiritual beliefs feel misinterpreted when the LGBT community calls them sexually repressed. Transgender people feel misunderstood in doctor’s offices, in public restrooms, and walking down the street with the ugly stares and sneers. Same-sex attracted individuals feel misinterpreted when people interpret their commitment to their opposite-sex spouse and children as an indicator of cowardice and slavery to society’s norms.
Let’s be honest – it’s not just about feeling misunderstood. Sometimes, we really are misunderstood.
Some might call that photo above sacrilegious. But I think it points to a very real truth. If anyone was misunderstood during his time on earth, it was Christ (although I doubt it had anything to do with figs). Called a heretic, false prophet, a liar, and a criminal, Christ was crucified for crimes he didn’t commit, for a people he came to help, on a cross made from a tree that his God-nature helped to form at the creation of the world. Talk about being misunderstood.
When we’re misunderstood we might try to explain ourselves. We might try to apologize. We might get defensive. We might get angry and hurtful in return. We might misunderstand those who misunderstand us.
But take hope. There is one who will never misunderstand you, because he knows you, through and through. This is the most joyful and terrifying thing of all – to be known for who we really are. So for all the moments when you really are misunderstood, perhaps this passage will bring you comfort as it has for me over the years.
Psalm 25:1-3,16-17, 20-21
In you, LORD my God, I put my trust. I trust in you; do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me. No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame, but shame will come on those who are treacherous without cause. Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from anguish. Guard my life and rescue me; do not let me be put to shame, for I take refuge in you. May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope, LORD, is in you.
What about you? What encourages you when you’re misunderstood?