Jesus Was Misunderstood Too

When Christians are misunderstood they are in good company

Jesus was misunderstood too

So many people have their minds made up about Christians. Some believe that Christians are nothing more than rule-keeping legalists, or self-righteous individuals. It’s a shame that many fail to investigate the true claims of Christianity and would rather go on what they have heard, or what they think. Many times Christians get discouraged because they have been mocked, ridiculed, and simply misunderstood.

The Christian’s ultimate example is Jesus Christ. Jesus was liked by some and hated by others. Many people had thoughts about who they assumed Jesus to be, and many times they were wrong (see Matt 16:13-16). Jesus’ sayings were often received in the wrong way by those who failed to understand what he really meant (John 3:3-4). Christians should not be surprised when they receive the same treatment that Jesus received. Such is a part of discipleship (John 15:18).

Christians should not expect everyone to applaud them, pat them on the back, or agree with them (2 Tim 3:12). After all, these things did not happen to Jesus. Jesus was laughed at, called crazy, thought to be a ghost, and rejected for a political figure. When we look at the life of Jesus we can gain encouragement, that though Christians are ridiculed and in the minority, we are in good company.

People Laughed at Jesus

On one occasion Jesus was going to heal the daughter of Jairus, a synagogue ruler, who was at the point of death (Mark 5:21-24). Jesus decided to go and heal her. When he was approaching Jairus’ home, rulers from the house met them and said that the girl was dead and Jesus didn’t need to come (Mark 5:35).

When Jesus came to the house and claimed that the young girl was not dead, but simply sleeping, the people laughed at him (Mark 5:38-40). Didn’t Jesus know a dead person when he saw one? Jesus would raise the girl from the dead and put this comedy show to silence (Mark 5:41-43).

People Thought Jesus Was Crazy

If anyone ever had themselves under control, it was the sinless Son of God. Jesus knew what others were thinking, and he definitely had his own thoughts under control (John 2:24-25).  Though Jesus taught and thought clearly, this did not keep him from falling under the ridicule of society. On one occasion a multitude surrounded Jesus and they could not even eat. His family concluded that “He is out of his mind” (Mark 3:20-21).

On another occasion, Jesus taught about being the good shepherd and laying down his life for humanity, and the crowd concluded, “He has a demon, and is insane; why listen to him?” (John 10:19-20).  They misunderstood his teaching and his authority to speak on such matters, and as a result, concluded that he was crazy.

Today Christians fall under the same treatment. When a Christian makes a big deal about abortion, or the evidence in nature for a Creator, he or she is sometimes marked as crazy. It is sometimes difficult for Christians to stand up for what they believe under such circumstances, but we need not compromise, we are supposed to think differently (Rom 12:1-2).

Jesus taught like no one they had ever heard (John 7:46), yet they concluded that he was crazy. The world has things backward: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” (Isa 5:20). The crazy people in our society are viewed as sane while the sober-minded are viewed as insane.

How Should Christians Respond?

How can Christians engage in a world that misunderstands them? Should Christians just hide in monasteries or in our church buildings to keep from being falsely labeled by others? Jesus did not want his disciples to hide from the world, but he wanted them to overcome the world (John 16:33). Christians should engage our culture in the same way that Jesus engaged his.

Jesus spent time with sinners and religious individuals alike; and never became a sinner (Luke 15:1-2; Heb 4:14-15).  We need to live in such a way so as to silence the critics that wrongfully accuse us (Titus 2:6-8). Christians should not bend their morals and beliefs to be more acceptable to those around them. Christians always look silly trying on the world’s clothes (1 Pet 1:13-16).

Jesus dealt with enough ridicule and hatred during his life, and he did not behave obnoxiously to add to it. As Christians, we must be careful not to add to misunderstandings of Christianity based on silly things. We do not need to be battling on whether homeschooling makes one more righteous than public school, or if Christians should begin a gluten-free diet.

The world doesn’t need to see us get up in arms about politics or sports. We need to be on fire about the gospel of Christ. People will find enough to nitpick Christians about, let’s not add to it with unprofitable and silly agendas. Jesus was misunderstood, and Christians will no doubt experience the same treatment. As long as God understands us, that’s all that matters in the end. Though unknown to the world, we can be known by God.

Hiram Kemp

Hiram is a graduate of the Florida School of Preaching, Freed-Hardeman University, and is working on his Ph.D. from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He currently serves as one of the ministers at the Lehman Avenue church of Christ in Bowling Green, Kentucky. He and his wife Brittani have two children, Nadia and Andre.

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