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One often hears of 'misunderstandings', and the glazed eyes lose their tears, gradually, as the offended party is given to understand that really no offence was meant: it was all just an unfortunate misunderstanding.
It is possible. It happens quite often. However, behind and beyond this, there is what is a far more significant feature in this field. Misunderstanding comes because symbols (words) and symptoms (expression, manner, atmosphere, glances or whatever other indirect form of communication was used, advertently or inadvertently) were either done clumsily, or else were read clumsily, or both. Something went wrong in the transfer of knowledge, data, attitude, so that the result is inaccurate.
ONE reason why this CAN occur is simple. There is a lack of understanding in the heart; it may be this as an underlying cause, often is, but need not be so. Clumsiness may come from ineptitude as well as ignorance.
However much that is classed as 'misunderstanding' is actually an occasion for the lack of understanding of the nature of life and love and peace and friendship, reliability and integrity, truth and courage, loyalty and its place, to show itself. That is one reason why some people become so 'touchy', so super-sensitive in this area. They sense, and sometimes quite rightly, that the one offending them is doing so because there is NOT that loyalty, NOT that integrity and NOT that love which had been imagined, or thought to be part of the relationship, as in marriage or friendship's concerned comradeship.
Thus a friend who shouts publicly at his friend, that this or that private matter has offended him, and so performs in Pharisaic manner, does not cover for his friend. Rather, he exposes his error without help or sensitivity, and is no friend at all. A friend loves at all times (Proverbs 17:17). Such a superficial friend who unrepentantly performs in this other fashion cannot be 'lost', since there was no friendship to lose. Its minimal condition was missing. If this error were deemed a 'misunderstanding', the word could suffer violence. It could rather be that a correct understanding was now reached, that friendship was not present at all, but instead whatever other motive was operational - whether to make use of someone, or to indulge admiration or some other facet.
In this way, it can occur that 'misunderstanding' may actually be a correct understanding, strangely delivered and revealed in response to a crisis.
It could of course, in the above case, be that friendship was beginning to grow, but a desire for something else which conflicted with it had become paramount and here revealed its grossness. In either case, the friendship, if any, was dead by the time the action occurred. The action merely revealed its lack. A structural concrete pillar is to hold something up; and if it does not, it is dysfunctional, and not a structural pillar but a structural remnant. A friendship that lacks love is not one; and love ACTS with forbearance and concern, seeking the good of its object, not the assertion of its own stridency.
Thus failure in understanding may be the cause ultimate. A person may not understand the very meaning of love, as distinct from self-admiration, and felicitous operation, and so be incapable of it spiritually, which is where the action lies. Now someone may consider the nature of loyalties. WHY should I be loyal to my friend ? HOW MUCH should I be loyal ?
These are unanswerable questions without the truth, since there is no basis but the psychic thrust of the moment, for the resolution. In Christ however, it is perfectly simple, although not necessarily without cost. You are loyal to HIM first, and you never break any of His words for ANYONE. You do not cover up to enable escape, but you do not hasten to uncover in order to assert yourself. You remain honest and with integrity, but simultaneously seek the good of the one you love with all your heart, seeking in privacy and peace to correct an error, if by any means this might relieve and restore.
When you do this IN CHRIST'S SPIRIT (Romans 8:9-11), then the power as well as the precept, the grace as well as the principle being present, the healing of helpfulness can proceed with the humility of holiness; and then there is a loveliness like that of a rose. Whether in friendship, or that special form of it which is marriage and involves further ramifications in children and continual co-operation, as well as romance, this is a crucial matter; for 'misunderstanding' is often the fruit of LACK of understanding in the heart or hearts concerned, so that what SHOULD be present, is absent. The results are divorce and delinquency in children not a little, where the fundamental lack of what love is, in the marriage, becomes the erosive blight on the children.
This is one reason why the chaff of 'partners' instead of marital pairs, in pseudo-families, becomes the breeding ground of hatred, divorce, separation and seduction as one or both partners, feeling now a little this and now a little that, yield, frustrated, to the emotions of lust or romance in illicit and meaningless indulgence, one so bringing horror to the other, or cynicism or both; and this may then be reciprocated and advance in cyclotronic manner.
This in turn breeds 'misunderstandings' by the multitude, as there is all too clearly revealed in many cases, the actual INCAPACITY to love with that pure undying flame which KNOWS what it is, where it is, whose it is and how to be renewed and purified at need: that which God gives to His own adopted children (Ephesians 1:4-14), since it is His. As man in many lands moves from social appearances which were derived from Christianity, into the primary divorce, that from the Lord Himself, into the worship of liberty, liberty to have same-sex marriages so-called, or to have many partners, some simultaneous among the opposite sex, to beget children with all the care of a wind of lust, which blows at times, and then to have them divided up and dissected in their relationship to the separated parents, now with others: much is lost.
However much that is lost is what was never gained for the inhabitants of the hard culture, now deformed.
It is like the case which Christ indicates in Matthew 13:19, within His great parable of the sower and the seed. A sower was spreading seed in the old-fashioned agricultural way, and some fell on good ground, some among thorns, some on a hard path and some in a place of competitive weeds. Our current concern is with the 'wayside' case, the path which is hard and not receptive for the seed, which is explained as being the word of God, and hence inclusive of the Gospel of divine mercy and grace to sinners: all of the human race being in this category - other than Christ who is the incarnation of the ever-pure God. HE became Saviour to win back to God, and came as God from God for this purpose (Philippians 2, John 8:58, 17:1-3). If you do not understand Him, you will never understand yourself on this earth.
The point in our concern here is this. Christ indicates that in this case, where the devil grabs the seed and so prevents germination, since the path makes the seed conspicuous and the soil is too hard for it to penetrate, there is one primary failure.
It is this. The person concerned DOES NOT UNDERSTAND. That is found in Matthew 13:19.
"When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it,
then the wicked one comes an snatches away what was sown in his heart.
This is he who received seed by the wayside."
WHY does the person not understand ? Is it because of some lack in the word ? in the sower ? Not at all. In this case, this is WHERE that person is, on the wayside, so that the hardness is natural to that person. The seed falls nicely, is good, but the place where it falls is by nature hard. It is walked on by culture and hardened by custom. It is not ready to receive ANYTHING other than the pounding feet which use it. It is a cultural captive, a utility specialist, and any new understanding, indeed any basic understanding of life and growing, is foreign to it. It is devoted to other purposes in this world.
LACK of understanding therefore is the underlying cause of much woe in life. It is not that there is nothing to understand, but that millions fail to be willing to listen, for their hearts are hardened by tradition, desire, utilities of various kind, whether custom or ambition, whether they are fearful of change - 'what would it be like to serve the Lord ?' some may say, shuddering - or whether their dead desires indulged are a matter of such heavy traffic that living under the Lordship of the living God becomes for them an outrageous thought altogether.
When this occurs then MISUNDERSTANDING becomes almost a certainty. If you do not understand HOW to live, and WHY to live and WHERE to live, in the kingdom of heaven with Christ as Lord (which means that you obey Him! Luke 14:27ff., 6:46), then how would you be even able to see the correct relationship of truth to equity, of justice to love, or mercy to grace, and so act with confidence and righteousness! Divorced from THE TRUTH (John 14:6), you are without it!
It would be like entering an aeroplane and taking off, setting your nose to the clouds that please you most (whether because they have more artistry in them, or you feel this is the right direction, or it seems to do justice to your soulfulness, or because they are the nearest or whatever else may be operative in the mind); and then expecting to navigate to the apt destination.
The old song, I know where I am going, and I know who is going with me, has much portent. You need to know the PURPOSE of life and the PRINCE of life, as in Acts 3:15, and at that, to know that He was killed so that God in His mercy might forge for you that personalised cheque which covers your debts to Him, and grants to you His own divine righteousness (as Paul shows in II Corinthians 5:19-21 and Paul in Romans 3:23ff., 5:1-12, Titus 2-3, Acts 17:30-31, 13:39, Galatians 1-5), so that your sins forgiven, your case corrected in Christ before your divine Father, you become a child of God into whose heart the understanding of life and love, liberty and law is poured.
With the truth given, mercy shown and love instilled (Romans 5:5), you then can operate in the love of God and in HIs peace because of His truth; and then misunderstanding has a counter, since you see things as they are, and can limit yourself, not indulge yourself: you can tenderly seek deliverance for others instead of deploying rank acidulosity or self-serving demonstrations, born of pride, wrought in vanity or inspired by self-will, self-advantage or self-centred pre-occupations.
No, says Christ, of the culture-captives (and this can as well be religious culture, whether traditional or your own version, set up like an idol from a proud heart that loves itself and dares to fashion the Almighty after its own image, ignoring the clear teaching of the Bible, and withholding or granting credence where and when it is pleased, if at all, to Holy Writ): They DO NOT UNDERSTAND. You see the same in Matthew 13:14ff., where people do not yield, repent and believe LEST they should understand and He should heal them. Many are too 'well' to be healed, and their spiritual cancer, canker, is so covered with self-assurance like great wads of fat, that they continue till the truth is out, that it is in!
As if God would give His word, and distinguish it in multitudes of ways (cf. Chs. 1 - 2 above, SMR, TMR) from all else, giving it a monopoly in test conditions that is unique in life, and give His Son, giving Him the same clearance without competition, and cover history in prophecy (cf. SMR Chs. 8-9, The Pitter-Patter of Prophetic Feet Ch. 4), millenia in advance, and tell the date of the death of His Messiah centuries in advance (cf. Highway of Holiness Ch. 4), in order that we should regale ourselves with the putrefying follies of self-affirmation, and forget that we are, in this, making idols.
Unwise are those who participate in that 'we'! and instead, do NOT participate in the company of those who are part of the 'we' found in Isaiah 53:4-6, where the Messiah is believed, so that one is healed "by His stripes", and He then is shown as the One who has BORNE 'our' iniquities. It is the same 'we'! YOU CANNOT have them borne, unless you are healed, and you cannot be healed unless you are among those specified, declares this passage of Isaiah, when you actually read it. Indeed - "WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT" and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed ? asks Isaiah in 53:1. Who indeed! It is by faith one is justified (Romans 4:25-5:1), on the basis of those stripes, of that bearing, and those whose sins He bears are those SO healed! There is no other Gospel. The one group is the other, the healed and those participating in Christ as sin-bearer.
It is HE and He alone who does it (Romans 3:23-27, Ephesians 2:1-8, Galatians 3-5). The Christian is founded on this foundation (I Cor. 3:1-11), and keeps to it (Galatians 3). What marvel is this, expostulates Paul, that you have begun in Christ by the power of His Spirit, in the realm of the supernatural miracle of grace, and now want to continue in some other way of your self-affirmation! And how did they begin ? It was in Christ, accursed for their sins, their redeemer. What indeed is SO saved, that is actually saved by the Gospel of the grace of God, stays that way, since it is inseparable from an inviolate transformation as I John 3:9 declares (cf. I John 5:11-12).
Accordingly, self-affirmation before
God-affirmation, affirmation of one's own gospel, wisdom, version, is simply
idolatry. What idolater will enter the kingdom of heaven ? There is no name
given to any such, since NONE such will enter (I Corinthians 6:9ff.). ANOTHER
JESUS does not save, but those who portray
are false apostles, declares the apostle Paul (II Corinthians 11). Another Gospel is not another, and accursed are they who purvey it, he asseverates (Galatians 1). As to THE GOSPEL, it is the one which Paul had already preached, you find in that Chapter. God did not go to the trouble and prodigious 'expense' of sending His only-begotten Son INTO THE WORLD, as I John puts it, in order that we should roll our own! God prescribes, and is not the butt of our prescriptions. It is GOD who shows mercy, and to invent our own conditions is to invent our own god, which being an idol, is a fabrication in the heartland of folly, as if we made our own antibiotics, from some idea about grass.
MIS-understanding then is a function of NO UNDERSTANDING in this field, and it will continue to grip and gripe many, who refusing to receive the truth, make up their own: as if products of God could be makers of truth, instead of receivers of the same, and their own basis would substitute for His, and their morals for His decrees, their own constitution for His, and their own kingdom of thought for His kingdom of heaven! Such 'gods' (as in Psalm 82's pungent irony) in grooming such become their own rule, and taking or despising this or that, they construct a kingdom without foundation for selves which are not receptive, so that NO understanding is that kingdom:
it is the KINGDOM OF NO UNDERSTANDING,
THE LAND of LIFELESSNESS,
THE DOMAIN of DARKNESS.
Understanding ? It comes from the word of God, its data source to man, just as the Spirit dynamises and enlightens (Ephesians 1:17). When it does not penetrate, this word, on the hard paths of personalised religion, whatever be the idol, bought at some religious fare from some sect or fraudulent party, whether self-deceived or other, then the victim of his or her own folly, does not understand (cf. Ephesians 4:17-19, 2:12). It is culpable lack of understanding however, where the heart merely by an inane hardness excludes its own liberation into the position of cultivated soil with powerful seed bringing solid harvest of wheat.
Wheat and chaff ? What is the chaff to the wheat!