“No, what I meant to say was…” Have you ever found yourself making a similar explanation? The older I get the more I find myself misunderstanding others and vice versa. To misunderstand is simply a failure to understand something correctly.
Many individuals in Scripture were misunderstood. Moses was misunderstood. Not long after the miraculous Exodus from Egypt, the Jews misunderstood what had happened and what lie ahead: “But the people thirsted there for water and grumbled against Moses. They said, “Why did you ever bring us out of Egypt to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst.” (Exodus 17:3) When young David delivered supplies to the battlefield just before he defeated Goliath, his brothers misunderstood him: “David’s oldest brother Eliab listened as he spoke to the men, and became angry with him. “Who did you leave those few sheep with in the wilderness? I know your arrogance and your evil heart—you came down to see the battle!”” (1 Samuel 17:28) Daniel’s prayer revealed that the Jews misunderstood the prophets (and their message) given them by God: “We have not listened to Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings, leaders, fathers, and all the people of the land.” (Daniel 9:6) The Apostle Paul was misunderstood. In Antioch, the place from where Paul and his companions set out on their first missionary journey, the people heard the gospel message, yet chose to misunderstand and reject it. Paul and Barnabas were persecuted and expelled from the district (Acts 13). Even the Lord Jesus Christ was misunderstood: the folks in his own hometown of Nazareth were offended and disbelieved His message and mission (Matthew 13:54—58).
Yet none of them caved…none of them ceased to carry on the mission and message of God despite the misunderstanding, disbelief, harassment, and persecution of others.
Christ follower…pastor…minister…leader…volunteer…Christian: You too WILL be misunderstood. Jesus Himself was misunderstood. Those sent by the will of God with a message and mission have been misunderstood throughout history. And now more than ever, those who labor according to the God given message of salvation and mission to evangelize and disciple a lost and dying world will be misunderstood—both outside AND inside the church.
Whether it is your vision, purpose, message, mission, leadership, processes, programs, events, activities, and beyond…you WILL be misunderstood. In your pursuit of the Lord and labor for His Kingdom many will fail to correctly understand what you do and why you do. Those who misunderstand will likely question you, oppose you, interfere with you, and discourage you. But at the end of the day you live, love, and labor for the Lord…let human misunderstanding be no detriment to your faithfulness unto God Almighty.
Peter and John unashamedly went about declaring the message and mission of God immediately after the ascension of Jesus Christ. The religious authorities misunderstood and attempted to silence them, yet they would not be derailed: “But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it’s right in the sight of God for us to listen to you rather than to God, you decide; for we are unable to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19—20)
Servant, in faith and boldness, empowered by the Holy Spirit, carry out the message and mission God has entrusted you with, despite the misunderstanding of others.