Hurricane Harvey brought many to their knees in Texas. However, it brought the best out of many people throughout the state and the nation as they stood up to help those in desperate need. It was one of those moments the nation needed, to see everyone helping each other regardless of race or religion.
Of all those able to help, mega-Jesus-superstar Joel Osteen could have opened his Lakewood Church to Houstonians and could have sheltered over 10,000 easily.
He chose not to until it came to light. After a few excuses, he finally relented.
It is easy for those of different faiths to criticize Osteen for his hypocritical actions considering how many feel America is a Christian nation. However, Osteen faced criticism from another Christian pastor who ripped him a new one in an open letter on his blog.
John Pavlovitz began his letter by pointing out Osteen’s more than obvious greediness that he is well known for, though he may want you to think differently. He pointed to Osteen’s behavior as the reason why so many people have such a problem with Christianity.
‘Over the past few days you’ve faced an unrelenting wave of Internet shaming, and you’ve experienced the wrath of millions of people who watched the week unfold and determined they were witnessing in you and your megachurch’s response to the hurricane—everything they believe is wrong about organized Christianity; its self-serving greed, its callousness, its tone-deafness in the face of a hurting multitude, its lack of something that looks like Jesus.’
Jesus walked amongst the poor, the ill, and the broken. Osteen opted not to.
Pavlovitz also noted that so many other religious institutions opened their doors to victims, while Osteen kept his doors tightly shut.
‘They watched with disdain as local Mosques and furniture stores and Jewish temples and Chabad houses rushed to receive newly homeless victims while you waited.’
He then noted another point that has been a growing issue with many. Many individuals take to social media to express their thoughts and prayers, yet they never act beyond that to help. We are all guilty of that. Osteen was guilty of that as well, as he tweeted his thoughts and prayers out to many.
‘They lamented you tweeting out that “God was still on his Throne,” while thousands of your neighbors were literally under water.
‘They saw your social media expressions of “thoughts and prayers” as hollow and disingenuous, knowing the stockpile of other resources at your disposal.’
Pavlovitz then wrote Osteen absolutely deserved every bit of the blowback he has received and will continue to receive.
‘As a result of the pushback and condemnation you received, I imagine you feel like this has been a rough week. It hasn’t. You’ve had the week you probably should have had, all this considered. You’ve had the week that was coming long before rain ever started falling in Houston.’
He then wrote praising the everyday men and women, also caught up in the fury of the storm, who rose up to help — something Osteen was more than capable of doing monetarily, physically, and spiritually.
‘That’s why many of these ordinary, exhausted, pressed to the edge people, lined up as human chains in filthy, rushing, waist-high water to pull people out of submerged vehicles. It’s why they came from hundreds of miles with boats and at their own expense and using vacation days, to pluck strangers from rooftops. It’s why they gave money and clothing and food and blood (and some of them like Officer Steve Perez)—their very lives acting in the way Jesus said was the tangible fruit of their faith.’
Pavlovitz also touched on the story of the Good Samaritan – the parable Jesus told of a shunned man helping someone in need with no hesitance while holy rollers walked by. The Good Samaritan was never asked to open his doors or offer his help. He simply did it, without question.
He finished his letter by stating simply that Osteen had already been invited to help those most in need. The invitation itself comes from Jesus’ own words. Pavlovitz wrote:
‘Don’t wait for an invitation. Jesus already gave you one.’
Featured image by Cindy Ord/Getty Images.