Yesterday I posted Bible verses that show Victoria and Joel Osteen to be false teachers, along with a video that’s been circulating Facebook of a recent church service of theirs:
I honestly wish the Bill Cosby blurb wasn’t added at the end, as my intention is not to mock the Osteen’s or to bash on them personally. This clip was the only one available as the original clip (that didn’t have Cosby) had been removed from Facebook.
There is a fine line between bashing a famous Christian person and doing needed honest critiquing of damaging and dangerous doctrine. I normally don’t do posts like these and my intent is not to bash, but I feel like what Victoria Osteen said in the video is so blatantly unbiblical, and I think shines a light on the overall message of the Osteen’s ministry, that something clear needed to be said about it for the sake of the true gospel.
Here’s the exact quote from Victoria Osteen from the video:
…realize when we obey God, we’re not doing it for God…we’re doing it for ourselves…because God takes pleasure when we’re 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.
The whole message of the Bible and the gospel is that God becomes the center of our lives and we surrender all to him (James 4:7, Romans 12:2, Matthew 16:24-26, Mark 10:21, et al). If it’s our will vs. his will, we choose his will. Think of it like a bike tire:
God is meant to be at the center, the hub, and everything else in our lives revolves around him. Everything we do is meant to obey him, give him glory and make him happy.
The opposite message of this is to put ourselves in the center of the bike tire. We become the hub and God just becomes one of the spokes. He becomes one of the many variables in our lives revolving around us, meant to make us happy.
Victoria Osteen’s statement that God takes pleasure when we’re happy and that (our happiness is) the thing that gives him the greatest joy is incredibly manipulative and misleading. First of all, you won’t find this anywhere in Scripture, which is a huge problem in and of itself. In fact, you’ll find the opposite in Isaiah 55:6-9, which tells us God’s thoughts and his ways are completely different from ours.
But worse than this, it turns the entire message of the Bible around and is going to mislead tons of people. Think about it: if what gives God the greatest joy is my happiness, what types of things are then going to make him happy?
Well, I’m quite happy when I sin. I’m married with two children but there are many days I’d be very happy if I were single. If I had no responsibilities. If I could flirt with and have sex with whomever I want. Or if I could take a peak at porn when I needed a little release from life. These things would make me quite happy–it’s why people do them. Pursuing power, self-glory and all the material possessions I want would also make me quite happy.
In fact, personal happiness is the basis for pretty much every sin ever committed.
Now back to Victoria Osteen’s teaching: God wants you to be happy…
Pause on that for a moment.
And yes I know, she is talking about “doing good.” But doing good according to whom? Isaiah 55:6-9 tells us that my idea of “good” and God’s idea of “good” are going to look very different.
This is primarily because God’s idea of good is often very inconvenient and unpleasant. Washing feet (John 13:1-17), dying to myself (Matthew 16:24-26), storing up treasures in heaven and not on earth (Matthew 6:19-21), putting others above myself (Philippians 2:3), and crucifying myself for my wife (Ephesians 5:25) are all things that bring me a lot of inconvenience and unpleasantness, not happiness. If my goal were my own happiness, frankly I would never do any one of these things!
God’s desire isn’t to make me happy, it is to make me holy. (1 Peter 1:14-16)
Or is she simply talking about the rush of euphoric energy that comes from “worshiping” God in song? Romans 12:1-2 gives us the exact definition of worship and uses vivid language of offering ourselves to God like an Old Testament animal sacrifice. Our life spilled out for him. All for him; none for us. The animal being sacrificed is not the one the act of worship is for!!! And to define worship as only the selfish euphoric feeling you might get on a Sunday is like stealing the spotlight being pointed at God and putting it squarely on yourself. Something a guy named Lucifer tried once that didn’t turn out so well for him…
We can be happy in the things that make God happy, yes of course. But the Osteens’ message is the exact opposite of this. They are saying God will be happy in what makes us happy, which is as twisted as it gets.
We are meant to conform to God’s image, not him to ours.
We are meant to serve him, not He serve us.
We are meant to worship him, not worship ourselves!
Or what happens when my idea of “good” or “happy” infringes on your idea of good or happy?
When I want your land so I take it from you?
When I want your wife so I take her from you?
When I want your body so I lustfully consume it?
When I purchase products that were made by slaves?
Or simply when I want your parking spot so I cut you off in order to get it?
All of these things seem good to me and they all make me quite happy.
And you can’t say this isn’t what she meant. It’s what she said and it’s how tons of people are going to take it. I’m not over scrutinizing here. If what Mrs. Osteen said wasn’t so blatant and so directly opposed to Scripture, I wouldn’t be blogging about it. And this sort of message is not an anomaly to the Osteen’s and many of their famous self-focused counterparts who have a similar message. People eat this sort of message up! Who doesn’t want to hear that God exists to make them happy and if they listen to this message, their dreams will come true? You are going to move a lot of books that way, that’s for sure.
The reality is this sort of message leaks out from the stadium church buildings and best selling books and into the lives of every day people struggling with every day sin problems.
I have heard many homosexuals who have said, “God made me gay. I asked him to change it but he hasn’t. I know he wants me to be happy so I know it’s his will for me to live a sexually active homosexual life.” *
God wants you to be happy.
I clearly remember close Christian friends of mine from my church who decided they wanted to divorce their husbands, who also attended our church. These were two separate occasions. I asked them why they wanted a divorce and they both said, “Because I want to be happy.”
God wants you to be happy.
In fact one of them told me verbatim: “I know that God doesn’t want me to be unhappy.”
I wonder what famous television preachers they were listening to?
You may also like these other posts from Noah Filipiak:
Host of the "Behind the Curtain" Ministry Podcast
Executive Director of Seeds Christian Community Development
Blogging at AtACrossroads.net
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