Matthew 24 talks about natural disasters and their increasing intensity as one of the many evidences that indicate the soon coming of Christ. There are certainly some arguments for prophecy with the hurricane, but then again maybe not, but if there is any Christian topic associated with Hurricane Harvey, it’s Joel Osteen. Osteen has been made out to be a hypocrite ever since he supposedly denied people seeking shelter from the hurricane access to his megachurch. This narrative is not entirely true as neighboring roads were flooded making the building more or less inaccessible. The building is five miles from a shelter in the George R. Brown Convention Center, with Osteen’s building planned to be used as a backup shelter in case the shelter reaches its capacity limits. Osteen never denied people seeking shelter from the hurricane.
With that said, though I am no fan of Joel Osteen nor am I a fan of his theology, I do think people should be prudent to do their own investigation into things when the opportunity presents itself. However, let us say, for argument’s sake, that Joel Osteen did deny victims and that the story of Joel Osteen offering no aid to those in need was true. As Christians, we must examine what we have done for the flood victims ourselves. The fact that one bad example may exist within the church (and there are plenty of bad examples) does not nullify anything that was spoken of in the Gospels or their application to us. In Matthew 25: 35-36, Jesus explains the actions worthy of reward to those given the Kingdom of Heaven “for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.”
Joel Osteen is certainly not viewed well by many Americans ever since Hurricane Harvey struck Texas, but few Christians can claim good reputations. Too few Christians do what Jesus commands us: namely, to let our light shine. Today this world is in one of its darkest stages. Unless Christians, including you and I, do God’s work of both spreading the gospel and aiding those in need, those who are suffering will struggle to find relief and may reject God and the church entirely. If it isn’t us, then who will it be? If every Christian chooses to criticize rather than actively help those in need, including the students of Andrews University (whether it be feeding a poor man on the streets or even simply interacting with those who need social interaction) if Christians do not serve the poor and helpless, then Christians cannot claim to represent God’s character of love. Many have complaints against Christians for reason of hypocrisy, and they have a point. We must let our light shine before others and seek the lost, but many Christians continue to live their lives as if Christ’s challenge doesn’t apply to them. Friends, “first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.” We must check ourselves first before we criticize others.