If you consider yourself a faithful follower of – or have an affinity toward – Mega Church Pastor Joel Osteen, then please be aware that you might be offended by this article. However, after considerable reflection on the ministry trust of Pastor Joel Osteen (someone I used to follow quite regularly at some point), I came to the conclusion that his teachings are some of the most dangerous ones we are receiving today regarding the Gospel of Christ. He is not the only one in that mold, but this is beside the point we are making here. In addition, we are not attacking the person here. We are only focused on his teachings, and I really would like to read your reaction according to the scriptures.
It is understandable if someone does not see Pastor Osteen’s teachings as fitting squarely under the “prosperity” gospel umbrella. “Prosperity” gospel refers essentially to the “give and you should receive” message mantra with the objective of collecting as much money as possible from followers. In contrast to such, Pastor Osteen very rarely (if at all) ever teach about tithing for example. I personally never heard him teach on tithing or even on the giving of money in general. His messages are not focused on giving to his church. Matter of fact, and perhaps what I have always found most appealing about his sermons (even now), is that, at the end of each sermon, he always encourages people to find a Bible-based church – not necessarily “his” church; just a Bible-based church. I have always and continue to think that this is remarkable and to be admired.
But let us now focus on the central thesis of his message. In essence, Joel Osteen tells us about how to think in order to obtain those things we desire. In that thinking sphere, God is absolutely central. He is the Provider. Whether you desire a better job, good health for your family, a promotion at work, or to be out of debt, the key is to confess the positive, claiming that you have received those things that you want. God is “key” in this process. He is the One who provides and will provide for you. He is our Father and His supply is unlimited. He is, after all, the creator of the universe. You did not get selected for the Disctrict Manager position? Do not despair because it only means that God has something better in store for you . Who knows, you may find out later that you did not get that position because God was really placing you for Senior VP. You want good health for your children? You want to get out of debt? Then confess that it is done, be focused on the desired result, and thank God for already having it…claim it to be yours.
This is in essence Joel Osteen’s ministry. And I might add that there are plenty of verses one may use to support this approach. So what is possibly wrong with a message where God is absolutely central, and where I am encouraged to think positively and expect Him to supply all my needs?
This is where, in my opinion, a little analysis pays great dividend. The scriptures are about “precision”!
Think “very” clearly about it: What happens over time as one heeds and acts on such teachings? The person starts to look at his or her life more intensely. Especially when the message appears to work, what these teachings encourage is for each of us to concentrate on each aspect of our lives, searching for every area that can be “improved” in some way, and claiming God’s abundance for that desired improvement. Living in an apartment but would like to be a homeowner…here is an area of my life I need to focus on and address. This-needs-to-change. In debt? This-needs-to-change. My children could be in a better school…this-needs-to-change. I rightfully deserve to be better compensated for the job I am doing… this-needs-to-change. My marriage should improve. This-needs-to-change. More and more areas of our lives fall under our scrutiny. Our lives have our undivided attention.
Where is our focus therefore? On our lives…on OUR business! And when we make God the central piece in our solution, what are we now consumed with? Making OUR business God’s business. But is this what the scriptures teach…to make our business God’s business?
Let’s see a few passages
Our Lord Jesus-Christ: John 4:34 – “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish his work.
The Lord Jesus-Christ at the end of His life: John 19:28,29 – Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” …30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
Paul toward the end of his life: 2 Timothy 4:7 – I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day.
The statement of work from our Lord could not be more clear and emphatic! His FOOD was to do God’s business and to finish it! NOT to make His business God’s business, but to make God’s business His business! And He confirmed the completion of the work on the cross: It is Finished!
What fight is the Apostle Paul referring to? God’s business of course! See Ephesians 6.
Ephesians 6:18-20 – Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit…19 And for me…to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
How does an ambassador…in bonds (a slave!) have time to focus on his own affairs? Should not a slave be completely devoted to His master? How can he effectively take care of the Master’s business if he is consumed with satisfying his own desires? The Lord says:
Matthew 6:24 – “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
When the Lord says No one, He means No one! Not even Himself!
Our Lord describes doing and finishing His Father’s business as His food! Doing the Father’s business was an “everyday” endeavor! When you do not eat for a day, it is called a fast…but the scripture does not tell us to fast regarding God’s business. Matter of fact, what did the Lord do on the one day of week God had ordained for resting (i.e. the Sabbath)? He still did his Father’s business!
Luke 14:3,4 – And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day? 4 And they held their peace. And he took him, and healed him, and let him go;
***The following paragraphs have been edited since this article was first posted***
Although appearing truly sound on the surface, I am afraid that teachings which lead us toward focusing on our own lives go against what God is expecting of us; that is, to focus on His Kingdom. I believe this is what the Apostle Paul was warning Timothy about.
2 Timothy 4:3 – …the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
2 Timothy 4:3 is not saying that all our desires are negative (e.g. There is nothing wrong with desiring my children to be in a better school). Yet this verse condemns “focusing” on our desires…period…good and bad; and that, even if the strategy to obtain them is to put God at the very center of them! Paul’s warning should be contrasted with his advice to Timothy…“endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry”. In other words…Be focused on God’s business! I do not think it is a stretch to postulate that it is understood by this advice that God would obviously take care of Timothy’s needs.
I believe it is important for you and me to realize that the mere fact of being conscious of God, of His existence, of His goodness and of His abundant grace is not equivalent to doing His will, but merely a prerequisite to it. Satan is very much conscious of God’s existence, goodness and abundant grace as he sees every day what God does for mankind in general, and for His children in particular. Yet, Satan is not at all in fellowship with the Father because He does not “do” His will.
Matthew 24:42-46 – “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come…46 It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns.
My dear people, our God is NOT a cow. Our Father is NOT a cow that is just waiting to be milked whenever we have a need. No my people! NO! We are supposed to be soldiers for His Kingdom! We are supposed to be watchmen! We are supposed to fight the good fight! Instead of focusing on our lives and attempting to milk God for each of our desires, we should be setting our eyes on our Lord, praying to always have the strength to do HIS business, and to do it well, and to finish it. I am Christ’s ambassador, I am Christ’s servant, I am Christ’s slave…My Father is NOT my cow. My dear people, may our Lord Jesus-Christ enlighten all of us, that we may be found worthy when He returns. To our God be the Glory, and may His Christ, our King live forever!