When Victoria Osteen’s comments concerning worshiping God came out days ago, I was shocked like many of you. I refrained from posting any comments because I really wanted to take it in and process it all.
If you are one of the few that have not seen it, the clip below is her comments during a worship service a couple of weeks ago.
In her own words:
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. 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.
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?
Lakewood critics were given a healthy dose of ammunition that their warnings over the years were not mere casual comments about leaders they simply didn’t like. The warnings concerning what the prosperity gospel leads to was in some way summarized perfectly by Mrs. Osteen in these 37 seconds.
She did respond to her critics on Friday saying,
While I admit that I could have been more articulate in my remarks, I stand by my point that when we worship God and are obedient to Him we will be better for it,” she said. “I did not mean to imply that we don’t worship God; that’s ridiculous, and only the critics and cynics are interpreting my remarks that way.”
Osteen continued, “Every Lakewood member knows what I was talking about because they have experienced first hand the joy and victory of a Lakewood Church worship service, and the honor, reverence and gratitude we show God.”
I imagine she wished she had said these words before the time of social media, but alas, they will forever be attached to her and her husband’s ministry.
America deserves the Osteens. The consumer culture, the cult of the therapeutic, the marketing impulse, and the sheer superficiality of American cultural Christianity probably made the Osteens inevitable. The Osteens are phenomenally successful because they are the exaggerated fulfillment of the self-help movement and the cult of celebrity rolled into one massive mega-church media empire. And, to cap it all off, they give Americans what Americans crave — reassurance delivered with a smile.
I do think that it is a completely dangerous line of thinking. We do not worship God for us. We do not obey God for us. All of life is not only created by him but it is for him (Col. 1:15-16). Who are we that such a God would even think of us (Ps. 8:3-4)? In his presence, we should be more humbled rather than esteemed (Job 40:4; Job 42:5-6; Isa. 6:5).
Why I Practically Agree with Her Words
Since I theologically disagree with her words, you might be surprised to read that I practically agree with her words.
I don’t want to agree, but I do. I can’t help it.
How can I be disgusted by the words of Victoria Osteen if I reveal that what she said is actually true when you look at my life?
I can’t be disgusted with Victoria Osteen’s comments if they prove to be true in my life.
I obey God when it makes me happy.
So many of us come to church to make ourselves more happy or more perky or more peaceful.
I follow Jesus when it benefits me.
If one church isn’t making us happy, we find another one that can make us happy for the moment.
The evangelical world has had a heyday over her words and it just makes me do some serious introspection.
I actually think that her comments could not be more accurate than any other words spoken today. She nailed it on the head. We make church, following Jesus, and life in general all about us.
I never thought I would say it, but Victoria Osteen was exactly right. And that is why this whole clip is so tragic.
This Osteen controversy is tragic because it reveals how we have turned Christianity into what benefits us.
Christianity began with sinless Jesus sacrificing himself for others and we have turned it into what we can get out of it.
Shame on us. Lord, wake us up.
Malachi 1:8 When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? says the Lord of hosts.9 And now entreat the favor of God, that he may be gracious to us. With such a gift from your hand, will he show favor to any of you? says the Lord of hosts.10 Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on my altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says theLord of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand.11 For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts.12 But you profane it when you say that the Lord’s table is polluted, and its fruit, that is, its food may be despised.13 But you say, ‘What a weariness this is,’ and you snort at it, says the Lord of hosts. You bring what has been taken by violence or is lame or sick, and this you bring as your offering! Shall I accept that from your hand? says the Lord.14 Cursed be the cheat who has a male in his flock, and vows it, and yet sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished. For I am a great King, says the Lord of hosts, and my name will be feared among the nations.