Can We Talk? Apparently Not.

Jerry Seinfeld has a bit about trying to select an appropriate greeting card.

They have the greeting cards with the couples on the front. They photograph them. These hazy focus people. They’re always having picnics. There’s always a tree, a pond… who are these people? I don’t know them. I don’t want them on my card either. What am I going to write inside there anyway? “Here’s another couple having a better relationship than us.”

Who are these people? That question has been going through my mind as I read the angry comments about the airplane incident with the Osteens. I have been deeply disappointed by the comments posted on my site. I know that most of them come from angry spiritual hall monitors that happened to stumble on this site. Clearly many of them think that Christians should never question another person in the faith no matter what they do. Clearly many of them think any mention of a uncomfortable situation, no matter how civil in tone, is judgmental and wrong. Clearly many of them did not respond to the points that I actually made in my post. I think the responses demonstrate the problem we have in the American church. We have lost the ability to discuss truth with grace. Feel free to read my article about Victoria Osteen. At no point did I criticize the Osteen’s ministry. I never said that flying first class was a sin. (That would have made me a sinner hundreds of more times than I have already tallied) I never said that Mrs.Osteen was entirely at fault. I simply asked this question. What is our accountability as followers of Christ (especially those with influence) when an incident occurs that could tarnish the name of Christ and His church? That was my question. That question was directed at the Osteens, at my readers and at myself.

Instead I got comments completely unrelated to that question. For example…

This is a prime example of someone wanting free money. Hemerhoids? Lost my faith? Mental anguish? Over a little spat about a spill. Come on, It’s one more person wanting to ger free money and not work.

That may be the case but it was not the point. Don’t think I got into the hemorrhoid issue at all. If I had I would have used the joke about her troubles being behind her now. And by the way, take a moment to run your diatribes through a spell check. Proof reading would be good too. It is hard to take seriously someone who talks about a “fowl” spirit unless you are writing about a rooster’s attitude.

Why not check out the past of the flight attendant? Has she had mental problems or money problems before?

Sighhhhhhhh. Let he who is without sin run the first Google check.

Never did he (Jesus) apologize to the people who crusifed him. (SIC) He did not apologize for who he was. 

That seems a bit of a stretch to compare what Christ endured on the cross to a spill in first class. Are you kidding me?

So I say, I see another human being Chistian woman who has become a public figure being persecuted all for financial gain. Im sure she is not perfect but I also say why offer an apology if you feel you are not wrong. Should she offer an apology just because some one has accused her of something?

No. She should offer an apology because she did something wrong. Once you get out of your seat against the directives of the flight crew you have done something wrong and that merits a response. It is a zero tolerance law. Once those actions delayed and inconvenienced others you have done something wrong. That would be the reason. And the flight attendants (not stewardesses) are there to prepare the plane safely for departure and follow all government safety directives. Although you should expect some degree of improved service in first class it is not their primary purpose on any flight to serve you immediately.

Did ya’ll learn nothing from Kelly Siegler’s fall from grace by attacking Lakewood as loonies, nuts and screwballs? Didn’t you learn that the local Republican party chief goes to Lakewood?

What? Where did I attack Lakewood or call anyone names? And when did the Republican party chief attending a church become an indicator of church health? 

We at Lake wood are well educated teachers, doctors, lawyers, moms, fathers………Cults try to woo you into a certain belief; we at Lakewood believe in love, Jesus Christ and God. I’m going to do what Joel tells us to do, come to church with me and you’ll never be the same.

That’s awesome. And not in any way related to my post.

Ya’ll are wasting a lot of negative time bashing the Osteens. Why not do good with your words. Complement someone. Do something for others and you wouldn’t have time to screed.

We’all didn’t even know we were screeding. I found out that screed is a noun meaning long harangue or discourse. Regular readers of the humble ramblings know I am entirely capable of a long discourse. I am not much of a screeder if you use the haranguing definition.

True humility is not quick to expose our brothers or sisters in the Lord lest we be exposed and humilated ourselves. Naming and pointing out ministers or ministries of any kind is not, especially with a global audience, does not glorify God and certainly doesn’t impress sinners.

I understand the point of this message to some extent. But I would suggest that it does not impress “sinners” to act like a follower of Christ should not be held accountable. Some readers told me I had no idea about airline service and what it meant to fly in first class. I guess the six million frequent flyer miles I have accrued and dozens upon dozens of first class flights don’t count. True humility would have certainly worked in this situation. The kind of humility that Paul encouraged from the church at Philippi.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2)

Hard to justify demanding first class “rights” in light of that passage.

Wow! I’m glad you people posting on this site will not be judging me when I get to Heaven. I didn’t know that once i accepted Jesus Christ as my savior that i am supposed to be perfect. You make it sound as if I can never do anything or say anything wrong. No one should hold any pastors or their wives/family members to a higher standard or idolize them for that matter.

I am also really glad that “you people” won’t be judging me. God knows all of the junk in my life and still sees me as holy because I am justified through Christ. I am also pretty sure that I said exactly the opposite about having to be perfect. I wrote that we will make mistakes and I wrote about how we should respond in humility and grace to resolve any issues that discredit our testimony. I said there is no condemnation in Christ but there is responsibility as disciples. And you are just wrong about not holding to a higher standard for leaders of the church.

If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. 7He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.
(1 Timothy 3)

Several comments led with this verse.

Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

I wonder about applying this as a catch-all verse to deflect accountability. Jesus was speaking to “religious” hypocrites who wanted to kill a sinner instead of saving her. He was speaking to men who conveniently ignored the law about both parties being guilty since it would seem two parties were necessary for the charge against her. And He was speaking to men trying to trick Jesus into breaking the law of Moses so they could accuse him of heresy. I think the principle applies broadly but the text does not give us biblical Teflon that causes sin not to stick. We are without condemnation from Christ but we still face the consequences of sin.

One writer had a humbling and profound thought.

A pastor I know was asked once how a person could spot a preacher who is a fraud. His reply was simple but spoke volumes, “If the preacher emphasizes his personality more than God’s and spends more time selling his books and trinkets than salvation, a person would have a right to be suspicious.”

I include that not because I am saying that applies to Mr.Osteen but because it applies in some way to all of us. What is my motive for ministry? Is my recognition or other’s salvation more important to me? If I am maturing into who Christ says I already am then I will be focused on glorifying God and not worrying so much about how others perceive me.

I am often wrong. I am often in need of forgiveness. So I always write with the knowledge that I could fail at any moment. But what I am learning is that when I am honest with my God and with others about who I am then I can truly exhibit humility and grace to my circle of influence.