“Confessions of a Bad Christian” – Judging Miss Vicki…Do we have the right to comment on Victoria Osteen’s incident?

The blogosphere is alive, not with the sound of music, but with opinions on Victoria Osteen’s recent incident while flying with the family to Colorado. I am assuming that unless you just returned from a filming of “Survivor”you have most likely heard the story (if not refer to the Dec.21st or 26th posts). Reader Jackie posted on this site the following comments (note – all italicized comments are from blog sites).

I found Ms Osteen “apology” to be more of a “spin” than an apology. I don’t care when she flies, where she flies to or what her title is. I do find that rudeness and poor behavior is unacceptable from anyone .What bothers me most is that she can issue a statement saying this was a “minor” event. A plane being held for 2 hours and the passengers leaving the plane ( whether they ask to leave or are asked to leave) is not a “minor” event. I do not think the public is stupid. Does Ms Osteen?

That seemed to be the most common response. The inconvenience to a plane full of passengers is inexcusable whether you are a celebrity or not. For frequent fliers the explanation seemed a bit illogical.

 Her side of the story is that she left the plane on her own accord. Hard to believe. In fact, impossible to believe.

…the woman caused enough problems on an airplane that she was deemed unsafe to fly. Rather than admit her mistakes and apologize, she’s argues with the FBI’s version of the story? What about accountability?

I regularly upgrade to first class because I have flown so many miles. After logging six million miles I have never witnessed one incident that caused the plane to be pulled back in and a passenger removed. I also found it hard to comprehend how a minor incident could generate these actions. Airlines are not in the habit of returning airplanes to the gate. The schedules are then fouled up, passengers are angry, connections missed, and flight crew hours are wasted. But the cold logical evaluation of the issue is being debated alongside a spiritual one. Do we have any right to criticize Mrs. Osteen? One blogger shouted his dire warning with his ALL CAP headlines. I have copied the blog exactly as it appeared on the site.

1) YOU ARE NO ONE TO JUDGE ANYONE! Who are you to judge for someone for what they have done? Better yet we al have done something in our lives that was wrong, and do you see the whole US talking about your falts? NO you don’t. The second thing wrong with all this gossip about the Osteen family is

Sorry about the cliff-hanger. I wanted to address number one. This blogger is correct. I am no one to judge anyone. In fact I think there is a pretty clear Biblical mandate that we have to prayerfully consider from the gospel of Matthew.

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

I think we have so broadly applied this teaching that we have ceased to hold ourselves, and others, accountable in how all of us represent Christ. Remember that Jesus was addressing the religious people who talked about godliness but acted entirely differently. I am to evaluate myself by the standards of God’s Word, and yes, the standard should be higher for me because I have publicly identified myself as a follower of Christ. I want others to hold me accountable. In fact, I was confronted a couple of years ago by a person who informed me that my actions did not match my public testimony. I was grateful because I was able to repent and ask forgiveness of that person and others. That is the standard we set for ourselves as Christians. I cannot judge the motives or heart of Mrs. Osteen or anyone else. I can, I believe, honestly and gracefully judge actions that are unbiblical. And now for the conclusion of the earlier cliff-hanger blog…

2) YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT SOMEONE’S IDOL. Someone’s inspiration. Someone’s “oak tree”. Let me go to your place of worship and critize your pastor, or what ever it is. How would you feel? Not very happy, so why do it to other people? Do unto Other as you would have them do unto you. The third problem with all this non-sence is 3) IT IS NONE OF YOUR %$#@ BUSINESS!!! It is none of anybody’s business what the Osteen family does. If Victoria wants to have her seat cleaned because there is something liquid in it, IN FIRST CLASS, then she should have her seat cleaned. I could understand if she was in coach and ask acting like that but when you are in first-class you should get your seat cleaned if asked to, no matter what. Coach is different than First-class, and there is a difference in between how they are treated and “getting a seat cleaned because there is something liquid in it” shouldn’t be a problem for either coach of First-class. It is called First -Class for a reason. But my question to you all naviie, inarticulate, pucillanimous people, WHAT CONCERN IS IT TO YOU?

What a gold mine this is! Let’s go point by point. Joel Osteen should not be anyone’s idol. Nor should I nor anyone else I know. I can respect and admire people but I realize that they are simply people. Most of us know that. My point in the first blog was that if Mrs.Osteen humbly sought forgiveness the incident would go away. The respect for her and Mr.Osteen would only grow had such a humble response been forthcoming.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto me? I would hope that I would never put my self interest above a plane full of other people. That seems like a fair application of the Golden Rule.

In his blog…uhh…letter to the Colossians Paul wrote to “let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.”  Following that would have likely diffused the entire situation.

As for the first class issue let me point out that first class is simply a more comfortable seating area. The flight attendants are there to make sure the plane is safe for take off, the baggage is secured, the doors are properly closed, the passengers seat belted and the safety instructions communicated. The people in first class have no more privilege than anyone else when the crew is doing their primary function. I am far more concerned about safety checks than anyone having a damp tush.

The concern to me is that any incident like this gives ammo to the critics and doubt to the seekers. Any time the name of Christ is tarnished it is a concern to me, and yes, I hold myself to that standard. If I do anything that discredits my Lord Jesus Christ I want you to challenge me (I would prefer gracefully) and I will seek to repent and repair the damage.

Some indicated the comments were from jealous and envious people who love to bring down successful celebrities. We will do another blog on celebrity Christianity but let me give you one example of a pastor’s wife who has dealt with fame. As one blogger succinctly argued…

 I don’t recall any incidents with Ruth Graham..

Defense rests, your honor.

Perhaps feeling a bit sorry for Victoria Osteen some bloggers posted the following thoughts…

 …thankfully, God’s grace extends toward us even when we demonstrate  our unworthiness. amazing grace they call it.

 God’s grace is truly amazing. He extends it to all of us when we act up — publicly or privately.

Amen to that. I identify with the t-shirt that says “I am the wretch the song is talking about.” But we do have a responsibility as the body of Christ to hold one another accountable in love.

“Be alert. If you see your friend going wrong, correct him. If he responds, forgive him. Even if it’s personal against you and repeated seven times through the day, and seven times he says, “I’m sorry, I won’t do it again,’ forgive him.”  Luke 17 – The Message

Fortunately, for Mrs. Osteen (who might still be in the learning process) she has the loving Body of Christ to gently help her correct herself when she messes up. Come on folks, leave her alone.

I hope the body of Christ is doing just that. But I believe that a little humility and repentance would have covered a multitude of sins. I don’t want to be left alone. I want to be accountable. Because the last thing I want to do is cause anyone to view Jesus unfavorably. All of us fall short in our lives. But all of us should seek to live humbly, repent, seek forgiveness, and walk kindly. That kind of life will get noticed.