Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Why Heathens Will Save the World

As a long-suffering social media addict, I am often bombarded with opinions from every side. Talking points I agree with strongly or disagree with completely. I mute stupid people; block the ultra ridiculous. Not a bad gig. As I was scrolling through my Twitter timeline, reading about the horrors of Hurricane Harvey, I came across several tweets by different folks that questioned why Joel Osteen's mega church wasn't open to shelter those that Harvey hit the hardest. After 3 days of being rightfully questioned about his motives and Christianity, Joel opened his dry stadium, er church to Houstonians. The whole concept of mega churches opening themselves up to the public brought up a couple things: 1. a conversation that hubs and I had a couple of weeks ago, 2. the thought that modern day churches don't follow the Jesus they are supposed to serve and 3. the idea that it will be heathens that save the world... c'mon and follow this logic. 

A couple of weeks ago hubs and I were gathered in our bedroom, watching the coverage of the tragedy in Charlottesville. I never tell him sappy shit like this, but my most favorite thing about our ever changing relationship is that we watch and comment on the news together. It is refreshing to have a partner that has sympathy and empathy for folks. Anyway. After Orange Julius' press conference there were many people, on both sides (ha ha) who commented "I'm a Christian and this outrages me." Business leaders and artists removed themselves from presidential councils, yet no evangelicals recused themselves. None of them were running for the door. None of them were calling the Tangerine Tyrant out on his shit. BUT guess who did call him out? That is right, heathens AKA those of us who are generally concerned about the welfare of others. 

And isn't caring about the welfare of others the job of the church? I mean, religion, at its very core, is trusting your Lord and loving your neighbor, right? I haven't reviewed ALL religions, but I have read up on a few and that tenet seems to be universal. So, I guess the real question is: when you look at the leaders of your church, do they serve as good examples? I've seen Joel Osteen in person-- at a Night of Hope in Chicago. I have purchased several of his books, but if I'm honest, I unfollowed him on Twitter when he said that the Tangerine Tyrant was a good man (because, eww, hell no). Joel is a "feel good" preacher. He smiles a lot and tells his legions of followers that our merciful God will bring them through their trials and tribulations. He says that... but is he a vehicle for those victories? Does he attempt to make it easier for his followers to turn their trials into triumph? If we use the current flooding in Houston as an example the answer is a resounding no. Once he was badgered, Osteen tweeted out his prayers for the city where he collects millions of tax free dollars every week then he put up a fundraising page on his church's website. It wasn't until us heathens shamed his ass on Twitter that he opened up his almost 17,000 seat church to those in need... TODAY. Uh, it has been raining since Friday. How very Christian of him. Oh Joel... if you know better, you are supposed to do better.

That is exactly what hubs and I talked a couple weeks ago: what is the role that the church should play in the lives of every day folks. Background: we don't live in the hood... but we are (technically) hood adjacent. So I ask hubs: "if you go to the next neighborhood over (like seriously, 1 mile away) what will you see on every other corner?" He had no idea, so I helped him out. You see a liquor store and a church. (Y'all, the truth). Presumably we know the role of the liquor store, but what role should the church play? Why are there so many? Why do there seem to be so many in failing neighborhoods? Most importantly: why do those neighborhoods continue to fail-- even if the churches are doing well? If the churches are doing well... and doing what they are supposed to do, like, I don't know, following the example of Jesus... would there still be folks in need? 

Even this heathen knows some scripture. Christians are supposed to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit those in prison, take care of widows and orphans. (Matthew 25: 35-46; James 1:27) We are supposed to be examples-- the light of the world (Matt 5:14). We are supposed to follow the greatest commandment... (Matthew 22:36-40) But if we do that, why are there so many people suffering? Not just in Texas, but in the neighborhood down the street. If you give every Sunday in church... where does that money go? Who does it help? Is your church working in its neighborhood? Does your mens group serve as mentors to the young men in your neighborhood... or do they just shake their heads at the dudes on the corner? Does the ladies group at your church gossip about the pregnant girl in the back pew? Do they have weekly soup kitchen parties to feed the neighborhood's homeless? Since one of our political parties claims to be exceptionally "Christian" why do they not hold strong to the teachings of Jesus? Why does it seem like your resident heathens are the ones lighting the world with love and kindness? Food for thought.


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