Three basic causes of misunderstanding

All problems are a result of misunderstandings, caused by three circumstances. A problem is halfway resolved when aware of its origin. The purpose of this submission is to highlight the possibility of only three conditions causing stress in human relations. To be in control of what is problematic a realistic person has to first understand natural causes of misapprehension. There may be more, but the three appear to be fundamental, where the possibility of the existence of others depends on them.

The first, portrayed as the principal of the triangle, is assumption-based information. People commonly jump to conclusions, before evaluating the information on the ground. The Book of Proverbs highlights this as one of the follies of humanity. Blessed are those able to conquer the common folly applicable to humanity: “To answer before listening—that is folly and shame” (Proverbs 18:13 NIV).

Even when having received information from allies, a good leader does not make conclusions before hearing the other side. Truth is not associated with human beings, in this world. It remains to be what it is, without being associated with those of this world. Your relatives can say things that your ears want to hear. But that should not always be taken as credible until you have verified truthful information from the source.

The devastating war in Gaza could not have gone this far, had either of those involved comprehended this truism. The reality on the ground is that each of those leaders is assumed to be more informed. That condition of inability to listen to voices of reason comes from assuming to know but without facts. Observing families being torn apart, because of assuming to know without facts, can be most devastating.

Attempts may be made to reach out to protagonists, but confronting those assuming to know cannot be an achievable task, because of conceit. Proud people make resolutions based on unverified information. Such people block their minds, to never accommodate anything else that does not support their already concluded reasoning. Jesus highlighted this as describing a condition of blindness, irresolvable, without a miracle.

The same Book of Proverbs gives a clue on how one can spot a trend when on a trajectory towards destruction: “Before a downfall the heart is haughty, but humility comes before honour” (Proverbs 18:12 NIV). The idea that one knows already is motivated by pride. It takes a humble person to consider information on merit, after having taken time to listen, before making conclusions. The assumption of knowing the unknown is the blinding factor that Jesus talked about when communicating with the Pharisees.

Jesus said, “For judgment, I have come into this world so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?” Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains” (John 9:39-41 NIV).

But, why would one assume to know the unknown? As the Book of Proverbs indicates, pride is the instigator. Another fascinating consideration is that the basic personality is capable of separating goodness from evil. Everything is hidden under the veil of arrogance. Within an evil person, a demon handles communication besides common sense. The person may, or may not even be aware of the effects of assuming to know when not fully informed. Falsehood is often uttered randomly, for purposes of veiling the ignorance that would be embellished within ego.

All this confirms the blindness that Jesus referred to, being a deliberate projection of assuming to know when misinformed. The person then pretends to know what is unknown. This is why a little knowledge of something could be poisonous, causing serious problems among proud people. Little knowledge promises better understanding, to those without conceit, but certainly causes spiritual blindness to the proud ones.

Proud people make conclusions based on what appears to be real but without facts. It takes only humility to remain unassuming, even when having accessed some knowledge before others. Anyone in the teaching profession can attest that it is impossible to teach a person who assumes to know the subject, already. To validate his ego, the proud person constantly desires to invalidate the teacher. Rather than appreciate, he feels threatened by someone coming with better understanding of some information.

The test of any knowledge bears its ability to stand against another datum of comparable magnitude. It can only be insanity that makes a person rant about a one-sided viewpoint. When you assert that something is true and workable, what are you comparing it with? I suppose it is easy to conclude that God is good when comparing Him with Satan. It is, therefore, necessary for anyone assertive of some truth to show something else of its comparable magnitude.

This projected the common cause of misunderstanding among the Pharisees. The barrage of questions constantly asked Jesus were not intended for edification, but trapping and exposing Him as an impostor. They judged Jesus according to held information, but without comparing it with anything else. They confirmed themselves as authorities, without willingness to be compared with anyone else. That kind of reasoning is sustained in the assumption that people are categorized according to levels of understanding, thereby, creating unnecessary conceits.

If one has not gone through the experiences of those considered seniors, one is susceptible to being labelled an imposter. The confusion stems from not knowing the significance of having been created in God’s image. The moment a person sees himself as better than others, he would be considering himself as better than God. Who else could utter such stupidity, except the character called Satan? From this, a conclusion can be made that Satan is the chief architect of blinding humanity.

“And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:3-6 NIV).

The attribute of Jesus, having earned the Lordship does not emanate from exaltation. Jesus had the right to exalt Himself, as having directly come from God. However, He chose humility, ahead of pride, reducing Himself to the condition where the worst criminal was released in His place. If, indeed, Jesus is Lord, why desire to be more dignified than Jesus? At His last supper, Jesus washed the feet of His disciples, demonstrating the significance of humility (John 13:5-17). But the impact of Jesus’ Lordship is highlighted as follows:

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross. Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:5-11 NIV).

Jesus declared that His followers would not be different from Him. “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40 NIV). Logic dictates that Jesus’ followers cannot be better than Jesus, who was humiliated and equated to the worst criminal of that time. When respected and regarded highly in society, how then can one continue assuming to be a follower of Jesus? Can a person justifiably regard himself as a Christian when avoiding the cross?

These are pertinent questions requiring answers whose application throws the current clerical leaders in Christianity, off-balance.  Principled people know that failure to expose pretenders cannot be right. This brings us to the second of the three topical misunderstandings, emanating from blatant treachery coming from those taking advantage of people’s ignorance. This world is full of treacherous people which Jesus warned against.

“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit, you will recognise them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will know them” (Matthew 7:15-20 NIV).

Jesus used the simplest examples, providing principles of comparable magnitudes. The second misunderstanding can, therefore, not be intended for the treacherous ones, but for those susceptible of treachery.  The fruits can be observable, especially, in our Zimbabwean situation, where the highly religious people subscribe to the status quo. Can anyone honestly state that Zimbabwe, as a Christian nation, is currently displaying good fruits?

The treacherous preachers cannot be blamed, though, because they are there to take advantage of people itching to receive treacherous information. However, for those intending to take Jesus’ words seriously, it cannot be possible for them to fall into such trappings. Tricksters have remained with humanity from time immemorial. It takes only the wise to apply Jesus’ advice, when rejecting falsehoods and treachery. Popularity does not justify the consideration of assuming to know without facts. Jesus’ advice is that one should, at least:

 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13-14 NIV).

Jesus’ advice is to always be attracted to the unpopular gate. Treachery is criminal, but possible to resist when focusing on Jesus’ authentic information. If Jesus was not authenticated by credentials, why do those of our time assume credentials are essential? Jesus’ authenticity is observed when considering His teachings and consistent results. Anything else is treacherous.

The third and last aspect of misunderstanding arises from the misuse of words to convey information. For instance, let us take a brief look at the creation of Man in Genesis 1:27. If God created Man in His image, does that imply using mud to form God’s image? (Genesis 2:7). Creating and forming are two distinctly different processes, but causing the current misunderstanding and confusion in Christianity.

God’s Spiritual image has nothing to do with mud. A proper understanding of this reality enables a person to appreciate that humanity is Spiritual. The purpose of Jesus was intended to rescue humanity from this current mud confusion to God-like Spiritual condition. From this understanding alone, the scales of misunderstanding begin to fall off.

A person begins to see him/herself as God’s potential child. If created in God’s image what makes a person different from God? The answer lies in holding on to the physical body, as if real. Most people assume the physical body is real, rather than the spirit. With this new understanding, one views himself as not different from the President of the United States. And also not different from a bum, collecting food from trash cans.

All Scriptural misunderstandings emanate from misconstrued words, whose clearing can enlighten those willing to come out of their slumber. But when carefully analysing the origin of confusion, one observes conceit being at the forefront. Those in authority influence everyone to accept falsified information, without taking time to independently check the meaning of words.

Authoritarians take advantage of the cowed humanity by creating narratives that sustain authoritarianism. This is viewed as promoting order, which everyone assumes is necessary for human survival. But, the suffering of humanity, since time immemorial, reveals that such viewpoints are unworkable. A human being can be misinformed or better informed than others, but that does not make him different from those he compares himself with.

An informed person carries some responsibility to enlighten others, without, necessarily being conceited. A less informed person also carries the responsibility to access knowledge from those with better information. In the process of learning and applying workable knowledge, a person is expected to carefully review the meaning of words used. Information is passed through communication, using conventional meanings of words. A wrongly applied word can mislead any person to assume an unrelated meaning.

Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing relief to those who have witnessed the strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. Most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope, in a simple conversational tone.

The Print copy is now available at for $13.99

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