This week one of the largest churches in American has been under attack over the perception of failing to respond with compassion to the flood victims in Houston. Lakewood Church and its pastor, Joel Osteen, have been eviscerated in social media over a story that they refused to open their huge facility as an emergency shelter. The story was written in error. Part of this new concept called “fake news” which is simply an attempt by someone to distort truth over a personal or political agenda — usually through social media or the internet. Once the “news” was out in cyber-world, people just assumed it was true and jumped on the band wagon.
flooded like the rest of Houston. One part of the building that had a 10 foot high flood wall to protect it had over 9 feet of water against it, and it almost spilled over into the whole facility, so Lakewood acted cautiously, waiting to see if the building would completely flood before opening their doors. Joel Osteen admits that perhaps in hindsight they should have been less cautious, but their hesitation had nothing to do with compassion, but instead was one of safety.
Now, I am not surprised that the liberal media edia and people who hate the Church or Christians would attack a church or pastor whenever an opportunity presents itself. I mean, it happens all of the time — Jesus even warned us that it would happen and reminded us that when they hate on us that they are really hating him; but one thing that I will NEVER understand is why in circumstances like this, Christians choose to go after other Christians.
It was all over social media… Christians mocking and admonishing Joel Osteen — over something that wasn’t even true. I will admit, there are some things about Osteen’s preaching that trouble me as a pastor, I don’t agree with everything he says, but the folks of Lakewood church are my brothers and sisters according to scripture.
As a pastor of almost 25 years I have seen my share of Christians going after Christians. Upset over something that was said or done. A word or phrase from a message that was misunderstood or misspoken — and suddenly that 3 or 4 second part of the message supersedes everything else said that morning. People shredding worship teams over a musical style and personal preferences. The anonymous note of critique… love those. Many times it would seem like personal opinions and preferences have the same weight as scripture in peoples lives.
I guess the bottom line is that there are healthy ways to offer criticism within the Church and unhealthy ways, and the unhealthy ways really frustrate me sometimes. I wonder how Jesus feels when He sees us attack one another? Let’s be folks who forgive quickly, extend grace before grievance, and put the reputation of the greater Church above our own pursuits. Remember… “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” — Jesus.