Since the inception of religion, Christians and other religious followers have been held accountable by the world for practicing what they preach.
Recently, a story broke regarding one particular televangelist’s lack of action for struggling victims of Hurricane Harvey, despite his preaching on helping the needy as a Christian as well as a “spiritual leader.”
Joel Olsteen came under fire after claiming that his Houston parish, Lakewood Church, took on water and could not house those affected by the hurricane, before viral pictures and videos showed otherwise. Soon after, Olsteen opened his 16,000 seat church to flood victims.
Lakewood Church uses the New International Version of the Bible in its chapel during services and as a reference for their core values. However, Psalm 82:4 of the New International Version of the Bible says, “Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”
James 1:22(NIV) says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”
In these scriptures, God is commanding His people to go out and help the destitute, like those suffering from Harvey’s wrath, so that they would be delivered from their circumstances. The Lord commands his people in the second verse to not only hear His words but to practice them therefore practicing what He preaches.
Even so, no one is made perfect, thus shock should not arise when spiritual leaders fail to adhere to the word of God. We all fail in obedience in one degree or another and some of us fail miserably and repeatedly. We all have feet of clay which are being molded in new ways by the Lord every day.
We must continue to hold our leaders to the high standards that were set in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. The Apostle Paul summed it up in Titus 1:6 when he said that “a spiritual leader must be ‘above reproach.'” To be “above reproach” does not mean sinless perfection, but rather a life of honor and integrity.
Christian leaders are often attacked because of their spiritual positions, their motives questioned and their actions constantly criticized. As human beings, people are ready to pass judgement to the nearest scape goat so that their reputation remains stainless.
While fingers are being pointed at Olsteen for his lack of action in helping the distraught, thousands of people are doing the same thing. Helping the oppressed is not just a job for Christians alone – it is the obligation of everyone who encounters them.
Christians are called to action by Christ but they cannot be held completely accountable for all situations that call for immediate attention. They cannot take such a massive disaster as hurricane Harvey on alone.
Times like these call for prayer and honest self-examination. I’m sure millions of Christians took a gasp when they heard about the backlash given to Osteen. What happened to him could happen to anyone. I cannot explain why he did what he did. “All we like sheep have gone astray” (Isaiah 53:6); “all have sinned and fallen short” (Romans 3:23); and “because of His grace, we are not forsaken” (Ezra 9:9).
We must not give into despair and cast judgment on others in a time of such need because no one is perfect. Instead, let us work together and help each other as we clean up the underlying damages which hurricane Harvey has incurred as we prepare for a new disaster headed to Florida near the end of the week, according to The Sun Sentinel, which goes by the name of hurricane Irma.
Joel Osteen (Photo Credit/WikimediaCommons/RobertMWorsham)