“They may not see the incredible in you right now. Keep shining. They will.,” reads a tweet by @OsteenOrPanda.
This is probably my favorite Twitter account of all time despite not posting any new content since 2015. It’s satirical, but pretty realistic at the same time. I’m also convinced Osteen stared himself down in the mirror and spoke these words every morning during Hurricane Harvey. After his “unwillingness” to open Lakewood Church’s doors to flood victims, Twitter raged with comments against him and his $60 million worth.
Attacks on Christianity weren’t hard to find. I’d come across them just by simply opening the app. I became defensive over myself and my faith, unfortunately falling victim to the hatred toward this man within seconds of finding out that he didn’t offer the stadium-sized megachurch immediately when the flooding started. A mattress store, of all places, refused to let homelessness reign over Houston. So why couldn’t a “Christian” man do so without having to be asked?
A few years ago, when attending youth group at a megachurch slightly smaller than Osteen’s, I made a sarcastic remark to a distant friend about one of his retweets. I questioned how he could be okay with posting something that is critiqued so openly by various religious groups, mainly Christians. I embarrassingly got the serious response – “I’m not going to question who God gave authority to, but trust that something good is going to come out of it.”
That frustrated me. But it resonated.
How can we believe that statement when we have seen awful powers do awful things? I don’t really have an honest answer.
As much as I wanted to write about how wrong Osteen is, it’s a waste of my voice to recognize the things that are already considered true (to most people). I will share numerous Babylon Bee articles and retweet the sappy Panda Express fortunes, but the misrepresentation of who Christ is cannot solely fall on Osteen.
I don’t agree with his decisions, nor will I associate myself with a vast majority of the things he says, but one fact remains true that makes him the same as me: We are human. We fall short daily. I didn’t keep my doors shut in the face of thousands of people, no. But I have hurt myself and others, and that is not OK, whether one person or 10,000.
To hate and threaten is just as much a sin as not opening a house of worship to be a sanctuary. Change cannot come when sin fights sin, nor when responses to mistakes are hate and exclusion.
Grace has the final word. Anyone who wants to represent the body of Christ must understand and act on that truth.