“In the short, 37-second clip that has gone viral and led to intense criticism in recent days, Osteen, who co-pastors Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, along with her husband, Joel, is seen telling congregants that, when people obey the Lord and go to church, they’re not necessarily “doing it for God.”
“I just want to encourage every one 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,” she said from the pulpit. “We’re doing it for yourself, because God takes pleasure when were happy. That’s the thing that gives him the greatest joy this morning … just do good for your own self. Do good because God wants you to be happy.”
She added, “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.” (1)
The controversial clip has been viewed and shared hundreds of thousands of times on social media since late August, with some Christians decrying Osteen‘s message — but with others supporting and explaining her commentary.
Consider Steve Camp, pastor of the Cross Church in Palm City, Florida, who said that Osteen ”honestly believes that God exists to make us happy rather than holy.”
“It’s the age old sin of idolatry — that it’s not about God, it’s about us,” Camp told Christian News Network last week. “True worship for the humanist is about how we feel at the end of the day and what gives us meaning, as opposed to what gives God glory.”
To Joel and Victoria Osteen, fess up, I know honesty and integrity isn’t a big concern, heck you’ve got the whole media empire to be concerned with and of course that is based on telling people what they want to hear, making sure their happy and that of course is by worshiping … themselves. You both took a shot, to push to the next level, after all the whole religion thing is just a game, like Candy Crush or Farmville. Maybe something like Oprahism. Then when you realize you finally went too far, that the ice was cracking around your feet, you are backing down at flank speed, just be warned, that is not a smart nautical maneuver, increases your chances of hitting something and sinking. Frankly can’t go down soon enough.
While Joel Osteen has little basis or training for ministry, other than being his daddy’s son, Victoria has even less. So what the heck, try to drag the church down further and have a totally unqualified woman preach, what next, got a fifteen year old kid around, ask any fifteen year old kid, they know more than anyone. For us doing real ministry, lifting up and worshiping God serving in an area that has little other than the realities of urban life, it’s kind of interesting seeing suburban “religion”. Frankly, Joel, if you’re going to be a “Universalist”, then at least have some integrity and fess up. The issue there is that universalists don’t think God wants us to be happy, He’s off some where else doing God stuff and left us to fend for ourselves. You think God is sitting up in heaven dreaming up new ways to make your suburban, wealthy, pretty, congregants in Texas, even more happy. How do you reconcile that with the guy who just lost his job and may not make his mortgage payment? The man or woman who have messed themselves up on drugs or alcohol. The kid who is genuinely trying to get out of his violent, drug saturated neighborhood. The parents who just lost their son to suicide, who’ve swallowed your show hook, line and sinker and now can’t understand how God could have let them down. They’re in with all the best people, doing the best thing, how could God do this to them? Oh yeah, right, God only really loves pretty, talented, wealthy people like Joel and Victoria Osteen. OK, because people like the Osteen’s have “faith”, they were smart enough or talented enough to have enough faith in order for God to recognize that and therefore make them prettier, wealthier, and more talented. The guy who’s living paycheck to paycheck at a job that doesn’t pay a whole lot? Well he will probably be saved, but let’s face it, it’s all about what we do here on earth. That’s measured in dollars, pretty and talented.God wants to be with and bless the pretty people.
Can’t you see the absolutely goofy system people like the Osteens have established? It’s almost like a caste system. They are the Brahmins, because they have their perfect life in Texas, and the rest of us are untouchables. The Osteens are why Christian churches have doctrine, teach genuine Christianity. That’s why in a real church, people are all equal before God. In Osteenism, there is no humility, there is no sense of serving, there is no sense of gratitude for what God has done. Why should there be? After all they’re pretty and wealthy and talented and God should be thankful that people like the Osteens have picked Him to be their “god”.
Jesus said there would be people who would say: “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'” (Matt 7:22-23) You may have prophesied in Jesus’ Name, but in His Word?
“God gets pleasure when you’re happy.” Really? Where do you get that from? I can hear the reply, “well He should, so that’s the way it is.” We’re pretty, wealthy, we’ve managed to convince a lot of shallow, pretty, wealthy people that our message is right, well at least according to us. So that’s all that really matters, isn’t it?
“…while blogger Morgan Guyton, who works in Christian campus ministry, disagreed with Osteen‘s wording, he offered a defense to some of her sentiment.
“While I would say what Victoria Osteen said differently, I absolutely affirm the basic insight that worshiping God is not supposed to be moralistic drudgery but actually a genuine source of deep joy,” he wrote on Patheos.
Guyton added that middle-class Christians sometimes look at worship as though it is a “moralistic duty.” This dynamic results on what he believes might be a slightly inaccurate view of the issue.
“There’s a very unhealthy attitude about worship in the middle-class American church that her rant pushes back against. Many middle-class American Christians think of worship as moralistic duty,” he wrote. “We worship God because it’s the right thing to do, just like paying your taxes on time, staying caught up on the dishes, keeping organized files of all your financial paperwork, and registering your son for the soccer team three months in advance instead of at the last minute.”
Guyton later added, “Victoria Osteen is absolutely right if what she’s saying is that God doesn’t need us to worship him for himself, but he wants us to worship him for our sake.”
I think Guyton is being a little disingenuous. Should there be joy? Yes, there should but it should be St Paul like joy. He wrote about knowing what it was to have much in life and to have little and to have joy in Christ either way. Seems Guyton wants to leave the door open to the possibility that God really does want us to be happy. Notice none of them ever try to reconcile their rose-colored world with the reality of Paul’s writing. Does God “need” our worship? No. Should that stop us from worship? No! Isn’t worship a time of building the relationship we have with Him? Yes. Heck if I only go home when it makes me “happy”, how do you think my wife will feel about our relationship? Like maybe it’s not really serious? Wouldn’t God feel the same way? Do you really have the right to say “Lord, Lord”, when you think it’s all about being on the golf course or the beach? No Guyton’s out of line. Are there people think that church attendance about some moralistic duty? Sure, but does that justify Osteenianity? No! Osteenianity says it’s all about you. God owed it to you, Jesus had to do what He did (if they even really go there) because I’m worth it.
More and more we see that when people get away from true worship, ordered, focused on Christ, focused on the fact that we are all equally sinners, that we are all in need of a Savior. That God is going to be the Lord of our lives in His way and His time. Just because we don’t have much doesn’t make us less blessed or less saved. We are saved because Jesus suffered and died for us. We will have eternal life because He rose from the dead for us. Doesn’t that really justify us spending time in true worship of Him and not sitting around listening to a showman stand us and tell us how wonderful we are? We aren’t! We are sinners and we should worship God the Son who came and saved us and we didn’t have anything to do with it, don’t deserve it and need to seriously get over ourselves.
“The peace of God which surpasses all understanding bless you.”
(1) Billy Hallowell “The Blaze” Sept 5, 2014 “Pastor Joel Osteen’s Wife Hits Back at ‘Critics and Cynics’ and Addresses Furor Over Her Viral Sermon About Worshipping God”
I was sent this link another critique of the Osteens, more dispassionate than a lot of my blog: