Monday, September 8, 2014

Why Victoria Osteen's Words Really Bother Us

For two weeks now, the video clip of Victoria Osteen has clogged up social media, her ten second sound byte repeated round the world as she passionately spoke from the heart while her husband stood beaming in the background.

Her now infamous statement reads, "When we obey God, we're not doing it for God...we're doing it for ourself. Because God takes pleasure when we're happy. Do good 'cause God wants you to be happy. When you come to church, when you worship Him, you're not doing it for God, really. You're doing it for yourself because that's what makes God happy."

While most Christians likely wouldn't put it in quite such a jaw-droppingly abrupt manner, that doesn't mean the Osteens are that far out in left field when it comes to having their finger on the pulse of the religious climate in America.  If anything, Victoria Osteen hit the nail squarely on the head, accurately describing where our country is currently in who we believe God is.

And perhaps that's the problem, the real reason the video went viral: It's one thing to live out an unspoken belief through our actions.  But it's quite another to hear someone put voice to that belief. 

For too many years, the prosperity gospel preachers have made basically the same claim--a religious version of Mel Gibson's "If you build it, they will come."  Even the decades'-long argument within the church over the style of worship--traditional versus contemporary, hymns versus praise choruses--it addresses the same basic issue: Do we worship for what we can get out of God?  Do we live holy lives only so we will receive God's blessings and not His curses?

Our actions answer that question all the time.  If a church doesn't completely fulfill my needs, if it doesn't offer my kind of Sunday School or my preferred Bible study teacher, I pull up stakes and go hunting for another one.  Likewise, if God doesn't grant me a life path of ease and pleasure with the job I want, the children I want, the finances I want--a path that meets my needs--then I question His goodness or whether that's a God I even want to serve.

Our worship, our lives are growing increasingly me-centered, and one pastor's wife did little more than to point out what we honestly don't want to admit about ourselves because then we might have to pull our heads out of the sand, make some changes in our personal lives and, more importantly, reconsider how right (or wrong) is our relationship with a holy God.

No matter what the world may try to teach us, we were not created for ourselves or for our own happiness. The prophet Isaiah said, "Everyone who is called by My name And whom I have created for My glory, Whom I have formed, even whom I have made" (Is. 43:7).

God is our Creator, and in that role, He created us for HIS glory, not for OUR glory or happiness.  The apostle Paul said much the same thing in Colossians:  "For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him" (Col. 1:16).

Since we were created for the glory of God, that means all the works of our hands should glorify that Creator.

Paul writes, "Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve" (Col. 3:23-24).

Whatever I do, I am doing "as for the Lord rather than for men," and since I am part of "men," that means I'm not working for myself and my happiness, either.   Whatsoever my hands find to do, I'm supposed to do it for the glory of God.  

Paul even says to the Corinthians,
"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved" (1 Cor. 10:31-33).

There is a reason it's all about God and not all about us.  Our lives are supposed to glorify God, are supposed to point to God so that others will be saved.

That doesn't mean God wants us to be unhappy, but in truth, sometimes it takes a heavy dose of unhappiness before we can stop doing for ourselves and start doing for the glory of God.  

Happiness simply has nothing to do with it.  God wants His creations to experience joy--not superficial happiness but soul-bursting joy--and for that joy to be found in Him.  What's more, He'll do whatever it takes to accomplish His purposes, to save our souls, and to sanctify us.

1 comment:

  1. Well said, Jennifer. And convicting :) But, true! Thanks for writing, as always.