The other day, a Facebook post led me to a blog where Joel Osteen apparently stated he was no longer a Christian.
In it, there was a quote from the man, saying he now believed the Bible to be a work of fiction...and at the end of this post, an announcement for a fundraiser for Joel.
I admit it, I bought it. Hook, line and sinker. I don't know if it was an April Fool's joke gone horribly wrong, or someone's attempt at showing us how gullible we are, but it made me stop and wonder about a couple of things. First, what else is being put out there that I believe...that isn't true?
The site made it look like it was quoting CNN. It had images and video. All taken out of context. All very convincing. And every bit of it, a lie.
My heart dropped as I read Osteen's supposed comments. How could he abandon his faith? And what would that do to all the millions of people who rely on him as a teacher and an example? Would they recover? Would they leave the faith? Because when you're hurt by your leadership... that's often what happens.
And while in this case, thankfully, it was all a ridiculous fabrication, (one that Osteen has since said is comical) you have to wonder...when men fall, who cleans up the mess? Because men do fall, you know. And so do women. And anyone who is human.
I've experienced this kind of disappointment more than once...where you realize someone you hold in high regard is really just as flawed as everyone else. It's hard when people are so selfish they put their own desires ahead of the needs of those they're leading. It's frustrating and sad and so very wrong.
And while I've wrapped my brain around the idea that I can't put my faith in a person, that I have to put my faith in God, that doesn't mean it doesn't still hurt when someone lets you down.
Or lets a bunch of people down.
And while I wish it never happened, the fact is, that sometimes people get caught up in pride or greed or lust or whatever else leads us away...and it doesn't change the fact that God is still God. He's not surprised by any of it. He's not even surprised when people don't admit they're wrong. When people pretend they're justified. When people hurt other people for their own gain.
It's the world we live in.
And while it's sad, it's not enough to ever make me blame any of it on a God who loves me and saved me and redeems me. His grace isn't something any of us can really understand. It's out of the realm of human comprehension.
I've tried to make sense of a lot of my questions and I've come up empty. People are people. They hurt each other. They sin. They fall. They fail.
But God loves us through it. No matter how damaged we are.
I'm thankful Joel Osteen didn't really turn his back on Christianity...but if he had, would it have changed what I believe?
Not for one second. His love and his mercy and his grace...no man's sin can ever change those things. And for that, I am grateful.
"This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life."
--John 3:16, The Message Bible