What is the Problem with Joel Osteen?
I have been kicking this idea around in my head for a while. Now that I sit down to start, I am not sure where to start. Joel Osteen is a marvelous motivational speaker. I am just think that as a Pastor he is dropping the ball.
There are people in our life that we would rather just lie to us. When we ask a stranger how they are doing, we certainly do not want to hear about their arthritis, or their no good son. Am I right? There is a level of dishonesty in our lives that we tolerate. Please tell me what I want to hear!
There are people in our life that we must hear the truth from. We certainly wouldn't want an oncologist that could not bear to be honest with us. If we have a tumor metastasizing through out our body, we would want an oncologist that was willing to give us the truth.
I would think that a pastor should fall into the same category. As the oncologist is dealing with life and physical death, a pastor is dealing with spiritual life and death. When a pastor puts a big smile on his face, and tells us how marvelous we are, then we should really be skeptical.
I am going to go right for the throat. Our biggest problem in life is not that we don't believe in ourselves. Believing or speaking affirmations to ourselves will not get us out of the mess we are in. I believe our biggest problem is that we tell ourselves we are far more fantastic than we are. Don't get me wrong. Self-esteem is not a bad thing, but if it helps to cloud our judgment or ability to see who we are when the lights are out, then it is deadly.
We look around and see some pretty awful people, then we smile to ourselves and think we are nailing this life thing. The problem is that the people around us are not who we should be comparing ourselves to. Ultimately, we will stand before a perfectly just and holy God. He is the standard. When we see that he is standard, then we are able to see how desperately sick we are.
People love to talk about Jesus, but I wonder if they ever have actually wrestled with his teaching. Jesus said that if you don't hate the people closes to you, then you are not fit for the kingdom. He is using hyperbole, but what he was saying is that you can not love anything more than God, and then get into the kingdom. We were made by and for God. If we find our satisfaction or worth in anything other God, then we are idolaters. I venture to guess that we have all committed idolatry before we even got out our bed this morning. I know I am guilty as charged.
So what is the solution? Jesus. Christ has born the punishment that we rightly deserve. On the cross he felt the alienation from God, that we ought to experience. Part of the reason that we don't love God as much as we ought, is because we have never really understood ourselves. We think we are kind of special, and why wouldn't God love us. I mean I love me. The problem is that we have been in complete rebellion against the rule of God from the moment we were born. Once we are able to see all of our wickedness clearly, then we fall in love with a God who would love his enemies so deeply.
I suppose I am a bit weird, but I would rather have a preacher tell me how rotten I am. When I am reminded of who terrible I am doing at this, then I remember how precious my God is. God has loved his enemies. I am grateful for that, because that is who I am when no one is looking.