I can’t think of anything more personally painful than being misunderstood…being slandered…having people “trash talk” about the sincerely good things you are doing. Jesus had to be the most misunderstood person that ever lived. He was sinless, yet they called him a “drunkard and a friend of sinners”. He was God’s son and devoted his life to healing and teaching the vast crowds that followed him…yet the religious “authorities” of that day said that he was “down with Satan”. Inspite of all the good that he did, feeding the hungry and literally raising people from the dead-his legacy…his image…his “icon” if you will, is a picture of him being executed as a criminal. And, for Jesus, death was just the beginning. Since his death and three day stint in the grave- he has certainly become the most mis-quoted, misunderstood, mis-used figure of all time. His name and image have been appropriated to “sell” everything from religion (which he hated) to politicians (who he ignored).
I’m not Jesus…not perfect…not by a long shot…and chances are you aren’t either. But I’m quite sure that if we are to live anything close to the life that we should as followers of Jesus, we are going to have to be willing to be misunderstood. We are going to have to be willing to be slandered…willing to spend time with and love “those people”…willing to do the right thing, even if it brings criticism instead of praise. Willing to have people question our intentions. Willing to be misquoted and mis-used.
Jesus told his followers to “take up their cross and follow him”. I’m pretty sure that doesn’t entail a trip to Home Depot to purchase lumber and extra large nails…but it does mean that if we truly going to follow Jesus we are going to have to suffer some of the same injustices that he did. So go out and love the “un-lovely”…take a stand for those who “deserve” it least…be bold…do good…be willing to be misunderstood.
NOW I get it! I have coincidently been reading that for the past couple weeks and thinking “exactly what does that look like, take up your cross and follow me. What exactly does that mean”? I was pretty sure I didn’t have to go to Home Depot. I am kinda relieved. Thanks Don!
Seriously though, It is just as you said, being willing to be criticized, talked about and misunderstood to follow him. He did it for us so we can do that for Him.