The Jews who heard these words were again divided. Many of them said, “He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?”

 But others said, “These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”  

John 10:19-21

 

Have you ever felt the pain of being disbelieved?

Those of us who are known to have mental health issues may well know this pain. And what agony when it occurs! It happened to me recently though I’ve had no trouble with illness that might affect my perception of reality. And yet, simply because of my history, the mind that gives me my humanity has been considered untrustworthy – not taken seriously, not believed.

It’s true. There may be times when people with mental illness believe things that are not true. But to assume this to be the case for anyone living with such a condition is wrong. It amounts to unwarranted discrimination.

When a conflict develops between a person known to have mental health difficulties and a person with apparently good mental health, the words of the person with a history of mental illness are frequently suspect. Sometimes not even listened to.

Quoting Graham Thornicroft in his book, Shunned: Discrimination Against People with Mental Illness: “Once a person has been defined as mentally ill, his or her protests are often discredited or, even worse, labelled one more ‘symptom’ of his or her illness.” Some of us might at times have been wrongly discredited in the same way.

But take comfort.

The Bible shows that even Jesus, our example for how to live and love, was humiliated in similar ways. Jesus too was declared mentally ill, even by his family who said he was “beside himself” (Mark 3:21). He was taunted and mocked.

“Why listen to him?’

The eternal truths Jesus spoke two thousand years ago live on, even today. We have learned that we should listen to him. His words can be relied upon. They are words we can trust.

Could you imagine what the world would be like if Jesus hadn’t been listened to?

 

Following are some observations in abbreviated form from John Ortberg  and Huffpost showing the impact Jesus has had on the world: (https://www.huffpost.com/entry/)

Children

In the ancient world children were routinely left to die of exposure — particularly if they were the wrong gender (you can guess which was the wrong one); they were often sold into slavery. Jesus’ treatment of and teachings about children led to the forbidding of such practices

Education

The ancient world loved education but tended to reserve it for the elite. The notion that every child bore God’s image helped fuel the move for universal literacy.

Compassion

Jesus compassion for the poor and the sick led to institutions for lepers, the beginning of modern-day hospitals.

Humility

The ancient world honored many virtues like courage and wisdom, but not humility. Jesus’ life as a foot-washing servant would eventually lead to the adoption of humility as a widely admired virtue. Historian John Dickson writes, “It is unlikely that any of us would aspire to this virtue were it not for the historical impact of his crucifixion.”

Forgiveness

In the ancient world, virtue meant rewarding your friends and punishing your enemies. An alternative idea came from Galilee: what is best in life is to love your enemies and see them reconciled to you.

Humanitarian Reform:

Jesus had a way of championing the excluded that was often downright irritating to those in power. The apostle Paul said: “Now there is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave or free, male and female, but all are one in Christ Jesus.” Thomas Cahill wrote that this was the first statement of egalitarianism in human literature.