Whew! Hot topics can certainly create a stir. Or maybe the stir creates hot topics. In any case there are certain things that tend to get the evangelical community in an uproar more than others. Abortion, homosexuality, New Age and others are some of those things.
But people can ignite a community as well. Chances are that the picture above moved you to one side of the line or the other. It’s a little tougher to remain neutral with some things.
What is your reaction to the picture? Anger, confusion, fear, sorrow, joy could be some. The Osteen’s have certainly been the topic of many articles, social media posts, and opinions in the past few weeks that have pushed people to both ends of the spectrum.
But that’s the thing about the age we live in. Years ago Victoria Osteen could have said something like what she said that stirred so many and few people would have known. But now with social media and the popularity of blogs, anyone can take a clip or snippet of anything and post it along with their comments often without regard for context or anything else.
Let me just be clear on one thing, I am not a defender of the Osteen’s. Neither do I condemn them. I maintain the opinion of them that I hold of most. They are probably right on some points and wrong on others. In truth they alone are not the subjects of this article at all. I only refer to them because it helps me get to a much larger issue that I feel is worth attention.
In a previous post I wrote about the greatest threat to the church. It is my opinion and understanding that the greatest threat to the church today is accepting things as normal that shouldn’t be. That is, accepting things as kingdom that were never intended to be.
I think that so many times the tendency of the Christian community is to react without taking any time to investigate context or attempting to understand the heart behind things that are said and done. This has not only become normal but completely justified. I’m saying it shouldn’t be. It’s not only foolishness, it’s completely unloving.
I assure you that I’m guilty of this. Many times in my life I have heard a short clip of audio or read a paragraph or two and formulated a negative opinion of not only the teaching but the speaker as well. However, after many tugs and pulls at my heart I found that I’ve returned to my vomit enough to understand I don’t like the taste.
Whether or not we initially agree with someone wisdom is giving them the benefit of the doubt long enough to investigate into their words or deeds.
Understand [this], my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear [a ready listener], slow to speak, slow to take offense and to get angry. James 1:19
He who is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who is hasty of spirit exposes and exalts his folly. Proverbs 14:29
A [self-confident] fool has no delight in understanding but only in revealing his personal opinions and himself. Proverbs 18:2
Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a [self-confident] fool than for him. Proverbs 29:20
He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, he who rules his [own] spirit than he who takes a city. Proverbs 16:32
But there is only hope for wisdom when we agree with God that whomever we happen to be looking at has unsurpassable worth and value.
I think it’s critical to understand that many times the force behind our immediate reactions are nothing more than fear. We react to the Osteen’s because we fear them and their message. We react to those who practice abortion because we fear them. We react to homosexuals because we fear them. We react to those we feel are pushing the edges of what we consider appropriate Christianity because we fear them.
It’s also critically important to understand that we cannot at the same time love someone as Jesus does and fear them. Love will serve them self-sacrificially and fear will attempt to control or destroy them. Love will investigate and fear won’t care. Love will ascribe them unsurpassable worth and give them a chance to explain their heart and fear will put them under our feet.
The tendency to react out of fear is destructive. It’s ugly and instead of being set apart from the world it draws us into it. Instead of being in the world we become of the world. Let’s love instead and let’s be wise.
Jesse and Kara Birkey