Today, I would like to talk about all the victims of Hurricane Harvey. Wow, the pictures on the news are just awful and heartbreaking. I’m sure most of you have seen the picture of the nursing home residents as they sat in water up to their waists. There was some suspicion that the picture was fake, but Snopes.com has confirmed this picture and story to be true. Thankfully, these elderly victims of Hurricane Harvey have been rescued and are now clean, dry and safe in a new location.
I was completely dismayed when I read a news article this morning that Joel Osteen, the leader of Lakewood Church in Houston, did NOT open the doors of his facility to refugees. This mega church can hold over 16,000 people. I was furious, but I wanted to get the entire true story before writing this blog. I once again checked Snopes.com.
The truth of this story is reported as a “Mixture” of true and false per Snopes. It is true that he did not open his church doors immediately citing flooding in the building. However, many different people went to the church to take pictures, and there was no flooding seen in and around the church. In addition, the police and other emergency personnel had not received any calls for help in that general area. Was there flooding in the building? We will never know for sure, but according to pictures, videos and reports from emergency personnel, there is no reason to think there was any problem at Lakewood Church.
Because Mr. Osteen didn’t open the doors to his church, he was hammered on social media. Hundreds of people went on the attack asking why a Christian preacher like himself wouldn’t open doors to the needy. Snopes attempted to contact the church, but as of the writing of this blog, there has been no response. Then things changed. This morning, days after the hurricane first hit and AFTER people spoke up about this issue, Joel Osteen sent out a message via his website that they would be opening the doors to Harvey refugees.
What took him so long? In my opinion, he only opened his doors because he was pressured by the public into doing so. That’s what it looks like to me. Am I impressed that Mr. Osteen opened the doors to his mega church this morning? Nope. I am thankful, but I am not impressed. Too little, too late.
We as Christians are supposed to help those in need. The Bible addresses this over and over again:
“Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2
“For God is not unjust; he will not overlook your work and the love that you showed for his sake in serving the saints, as you still do.” Hebrews 6:10
“Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” Luke 6:38
“Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.” Matthew 5:42
“Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.” Proverbs 3:27
“Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.” Romans 12:13
“Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
There are so many other verses just like these in the Bible – these are just a few. The lesson here is that Joel Osteen, in the spirit of true Christianity, should have opened the doors of Lakewood Church immediately…not waiting days and after mounting public pressure.
I point this out because, as I said in the first blog of this series, I see a section of so-called Christianity that is being misled. Is Mr. Osteen a terrible Christian? I can’t say that. Like I said yesterday, we are not the judge. We don’t know Mr. Osteen’s heart – only God knows that. But I can point out instances where pastors don’t live up to true Christian values that are taught to us by God. Watch for behavioral patterns in these pastors. If they say something or act in a way that is inconsistent with biblical teaching, question it. Satan is very sly and will use tactics that many people will miss. This is why it is so important to pick up the Bible and read it yourself. Get immersed in God’s Word. Know the truth. Then and only then will you be able to see the real truth in others. Remember, too, that false prophets are out there. Meditate on this verse:
“Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look! Here is the Messiah!’ or ‘There he is!’ – do not believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and produce great signs and omens to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.” Matthew 24:24