The feeling of being misunderstood is unmistakable. It causes us to second guess ourselves.
I have been misunderstood in many ways; my heart, my past, and my motives. Perhaps out of all those misunderstandings, my relationship with God has been the most misunderstood by others.
“You are taking this whole Jesus thing way too seriously.”
“This is just a phase.”
“You have changed.”
“What, now that you have found God, you are too good for the rest of us?”
I have learned several things in regards to being misunderstood in my walk and relationship with God and I would like to share just a few, in hopes that it might encourage others.
Others will not understand your vision and walk with Christ, and they do not have to. We are not supposed to be understood by this world because we are not citizens of the world, we are citizens of heaven.
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ... (Philippians 3:20 NIV)
You will have haters, doubters, and cynics; love them anyway. If you do not want haters then you must never do anything great, because greatness requires being misunderstood.
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master. ‘If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.” (John 15:18-20 NIV)
There will be people who are offended by your relationship with Christ because they can no longer take advantage of you or control you. They will see that you are no longer a people-pleaser, but rather, a servant of God. Do not stop following Christ because others do not understand or because your relationship with God makes them uncomfortable. It is not their relationship, it’s yours.
“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him.” (Philippians 3:7-9 ESV)
How do you respond when being faced with being misunderstood for Christ? How we handle and address our responses as believers is very important, and it a delicate issue as you may be the only Bible some people will ever read. The last thing we should be doing in our response is affirming what some non-believers characterize believers as: judgmental, critical, and unloving.
“This is my command: Love each other.” (John 15:17 NIV)
This is a typically overlooked verse, prior to John 15:18, but it is the key to our responses. It is important to point out that this is not a suggestion but instead it is a command. We must respond in love every time.
Remember the Beatitudes.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:3-12 NIV)
Remember that you are not alone no matter how alone you may feel during these times. Others have traveled the same path and have been persecuted, misunderstood and misjudged. Just open the Bible; there is story after story of the trials of those who have gone before us.
To sum it up in one line, Francis Chan puts it best:“Something is wrong when our lives make sense to unbelievers."