Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Faith without Works Is Dead

Image result for Flooding in Houston Texas Today
 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill’, and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.
 But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith without works, and I by my works will show you my faith. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder.
                                                                     James 2:14-19
We have been watching the catastrophic events in Texas, particularly in and around Houston with a mixture of horror and helplessness. Last weekend's Hurricane Harvey became a tropical storm dumping unprecedented amounts of rainfall on an urban area with roughly the population of Southern Ontario's GTA, crippling Houston and creating billions of dollars of damage. And the rains haven't ceased yet.
There are tens of thousands of people out of their homes with no place to go. They are relying on government and the compassion of those less affected. Many churches and mosques and other places of worship have opened their doors to those who are without shelter.
We should focus on these acts of kindness and practical love yet there is a congregation which has received deserved condemnation in the media. Pastor Joel Osteen, of the gleaming teeth and big hair (I do covet that hair) has announced that his Lakewood Church was inaccessible due to flood waters and would be closed. Except that the 17,000 seat former NBA stadium is high and dry and staff are coming to work. Osteen preaches what is called a Prosperity Gospel, a perversion of Christianity. He has certainly prospered, living in a mansion valued at more than ten million dollars. That he is so hard-hearted that there is no room for the displaced is sickening. But where does caring for the needy fit in what he offers?

Perhaps Osteen needs to repent and include the New Testament book of James in his rehabilitation. It's unlikely that the lack of response to this tragedy will make a dent on Osteen's popularity or that of his megachurch. In the end, all we can do is applaud those who are responding as followers of Jesus and from the tenets of other faiths. We can always ask what we would do in similar circumstances.


1 comment:

roger said...

It seems that in times of tragedy and despair, the people who are first to help out are the ones who have the least.