I have made it no secret that I am among a growing number of Christians who are reviewing the message we are receiving from the Modern-day Church, and are finding it lacking in many ways. If you proclaim to be a Bible-believing Christian, do you hold your church and your pastor to the high standards that God sets for His people in that Holy Book? Do you even know what He commands or desires? Because you have to read the Book to get the Truth; God holds you responsible to do your own research. Listening to the message from the pulpit is not enough these days; especially if you receive a message like the one I'm going to tell you about.
Victoria Osteen, the wife of one of the most successful televangelists, Joel Osteen, delivered these words from the stage of their megachurch in Houston, Texas: “I just want to encourage everyone of us to realize when we obey God, we’re not doing it for God – I mean, that’s one way to look at it – we’re doing it for ourselves, because God takes pleasure when we’re happy... So I want you to know this morning: Just do good for your own self. Do good because 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. Amen?"
I nearly choked when I heard her words! Where in the Bible does it say we are to put ourselves first? And nowhere do I read that to "be happy" is God's priority for us. I seem to recall that He wants us to be holy, which means to separate ourselves from the sins of this world, which also coincidentally, usually arise from attempts to make ourselves ... you guessed it ... happy!
Now, I'm not saying that He desires us to be somber, depressed, and gloomy. But to tell people that worshipping and glorifying God is about focusing on ourselves is not only irreverent, it is a lie! And at the origin of that lie, is the same falsehood that tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden. "Don't worry about God. Make yourself happy first! Concentrate on your needs and desires."
Do you see the subtlety with which Satan and, yes, even Victoria Osteen introduce doubt into the Believer's mind? For those in her congregation who truly do worship God for His glory, she tells them, "That's one way to look at it." But then she introduces a much more enticing and motivating reason to follow God's precepts ... it's all about us. In effect, she introduces the beguiling notion that we are our own gods; that our worship -- why stop there -- our very existence is about fulfilling ourselves, rather than glorifying our Creator.
I actually did a search on the word "happy" in the Bible, and every time it was a byproduct of living a life dedicated to Him; not about "doing good for your own self." But those are the exact words that Victoria Osteen spoke to the 45,000 people in attendance at her church, and the message that many Christians today hear from their pulpits.
It's not only the Osteens who have inverted Christ's admonition to deny ourselves and take up His cross. Many pastors and preachers are teaching a message of self-elevation. They are not guiding their congregations to live a life that puts others first. Instead of helping Believers to live a life that glorifies God, and in return, enjoys Him; they are told that God's main interest is that they enjoy themselves and this life. It saddens me to think that American Christians are so comfortable in their so-called "faith" that they do not see the lie. Ask our fellow Christians in Iraq and Africa and China and India if they are worshipping on behalf of God, or themselves. Ask them if they understand that our mission is to be happy, or to be holy.
Too many of the shepherds of Jesus's Church are leading His sheep through the wide gate and broad path towards destruction. They speak the Devil's language, which entices the weak to gratify themselves before they glorify the Lord. No wonder Jesus told the rich and comfortable Church of Laodicea that they were wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. Oh, that those being led astray would search for the Truth themselves, instead of following blindly. Pray that the Church will awaken to its folly!
Job 5:17 "Behold, happy is the man whom God corrects; Therefore do not despise the chastening of the Almighty."