Monday Musings: Misinterpretations

People Just Misinterpreted Him...

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?

Monday Musings: On God’s Nature, Work, and Words

Today’s Monday Musings is another installment of quoteables. Here’s some food for thought for your week ahead:

“We want to know what the Bible means for us – legitimately so. But we cannot make it mean anything that pleases us and then give the Holy Spirit ‘credit’ for it.” – Fee & Stuart: How to Read the Bible for All It’s Worth

 

“Our God is a God of hospitality, creating a place for a people, a place where all life can flourish. God provides for all creation, as our Story shows. Our God is a God of order; we can trust God to provide for us now as in the beginning.” – Sean Gladding: The Story of God, The Story of Us

 

“We were created to partner with God in the work of creation by caring for it communally, relationally, both male and female together.” – Sean Gladding: The Story of God, The Story of Us

 

“The primary purpose of creation is that God wishes to bestow love and teach love, so that all creatures can share in the blessedness of divine life, of loving and being loved. No other purpose of creation transcends this one….A perfect love would be that which receives to the limit whatever goods can be received from a relationship and gives without bounds whatever goods can be given.” – Thomas Oden: Classic Christianity

Grace and peace to you this week!

Monday Musings: How We’ve Messed Up

I received a message tonight which reminded me, all too soberly, why we do the work we do. Lives are at stake. Another teenager is gone from among us.

The reasons a person commits suicide are different for each person and certainly more often than not, a combination of factors. Nevertheless, among all of the factors, abuse disguised in the name of Christian purity should never get to be one of them.

I’m tired of 17 year olds snuffing out their lives. Are we really so heartless that we ramble onward with empty words, “speaking the truth” to children who are holding guns to their heads? The truth? That’s what you want to speak? How about “God loves you desperately.” There. That’s Truth.

My heart is heavy. And I’m angry.

  • I’m angry that the gospel of hope and grace has been reduced to rule-following rubbish at our fingertips.
  • I’m angry that we Christians have contributed more to the problem than to the solution.
  • I’m angry that we are perpetuating the wrongs done against others instead of being His healing agents.
  • I’m angry that we care more about protecting our own rights than protecting the rights of our LGBT friends and neighbors.
  • I’m angry that we sacrifice the innocence of others so we can supposedly hang onto our own.
  • I’m angry that it is a laughable thing to call our church gathering places “sanctuaries” any longer.
  • I’m angry that we pretend the brokenhearted don’t exist because if we looked at them, we’d feel obligated to do something for them.
  • I’m angry that we fall down and worship before our self-made idols of cleanliness and piety.
  • I’m angry that we aren’t doing enough for those who need us the most.
  • I’m angry that we’re making it worse.

Shame on us. Christians, we are failing, and I’m frankly tired of us acting like we’re not. The least we can do is be honest with ourselves about that much.

Abigail Van Buren said, “The church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints.” That’s supposed to be true, but is it? When was the last time sinners – you, me, all of us – felt like the church would be the go-to place to receive healing for our deepest areas of need in the midst of our pain or shame?

Lord have mercy.
Christ have mercy.
Lord have mercy.

I am out of words.

If you are thinking about taking your life, please take hope instead. Please, please, take hope. It will get better. We want to help. Contact us.