I made a t-shirt about twelve years ago for our youth group at Granville Chapel in Vancouver. Seems like a lifetime since then. All of those 15 year olds are now 27!! I'm not 25 any more either!! But, back in that day, when I was 25 and they were 15 and all was fun and good and growing in our youth ministry, I made a t-shirt with these words on the back: "misunderstood light".
The phrase was meant to play with the feeling that so many teenagers have: of being misunderstood. Whether true or not, the perception of many teenagers at one time or another is that society doesn't understand them, their parents don't understand them, their teachers or their church or even their friends don't understand them. So they are misunderstood.
But many teenagers also feel like they have something to offer. There is something inside of them that is filled with enthusiasm or hope or potential or promise and they just want to express that and be affirmed in that or be free to pursue that.
So the phrase "misunderstood light" seemed an appropriate slogan for a rag-tag army of teenagers.
But it also has so much more meaning. John 1:5 says:
"The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it."
The light, in John 1:5, is Jesus. Jesus came to be with the people in the world, the world he created, and the people didn't grasp who he was and what he was all about. He was here, walking and talking and interacting with us, and we didn't understand. John goes on to say, "Although the world was made through him, the world didn't recognize him when he came. Even in his own land and among his own people, he was not accepted." I guess, as a teenage boy, Jesus must have it doubly bad. I suppose he was doubly misunderstood during those years! 🙂
That makes sense in a way. Who among us would have recognized the light that existed within this child, within this teenager, within this young man? Did Jesus say to Joseph and Mary, "You just don't understand. I'm going to be somebody!" :) Did Jesus say to his brothers, "Just wait, you'll see." Or did Jesus say to his teachers, "You probably should give me the benefit of the doubt." Did Jesus have to ever say, "I would like people to just believe in me."
But in a world that struggles to believe the best for normal people, it is understandable that this world would struggle to believe the best about Jesus. In a world where you really aren't considered to be much until you've proven yourself and provided a good track record on your resume, it is understandable that this world wouldn't give Jesus the acceptance that he had within him all the power behind Creation itself.
If ever anyone could identify with being misunderstood, it is Jesus. If you have time today, consider Isaiah 52:13 to 53:12. This is the portrait of a man who is misunderstood. But it was all in God's loving plan that the Savior of the world was to come and resonate with the lowest, with the outcast, with the misunderstood. Why do you think he did that?