Monday, October 15, 2007

Your Best Life...When?

Saw a list last week of the largest and fastest growing churches in America today. Not surprisingly, leading the pack was Lakewood Church in Houston. With a total attendance of 47,000 people, no wonder they had to buy the former Compaq Center to have space for this crowd. Annual operating budget for this mega-ministry business is around $73 million. Obviously Joel Osteen, the leader of Lakewood, is doing something right to attract these hordes. Maybe it's the squeaky-clean and ultra-brite smiling look he has on the front page of all of his books, like Your Best Life Now and Become a Better You.

So here are a few brief excerpts from Your Best Life Now. Read them and think about what kind of message it is that is being preached and taught that is attracting these thronging crowds and dollars.

"Don't sit back passively, hey I'm just looking out for your own happiness when I say, "You do your part and God will do his. Sure we have our faults, but the good news is God loves us anyway."

"If you will simply obey his commands he will change things in your favor. God is keeping a record of every good deed that you have ever done. In your time of need because of your generosity God will move heaven and earth to make sure that you are taken care of."

Joel OsteenSo what is the gospel according to Joel-O? Distill down this positive and affirming message to it's basics and what do you have? Well, it looks to me to be pure and unadulterated legalism and works righteousness. We do the best we can and God will do the best He can. Hey, we're all OK even when we mess up because after all, He loves us! We just have to do all the right stuff, give to all the right places, and God will overlook all the bad stuff we've done and we'll be just okey-doke with Him. We do our part, and God will be obliged to do his. Life is good!!

Sounds so great, so warm and fuzzy, doesn't it? But somehow the whole issue of sin is overlooked here. Somehow the fact that the Bible tells us that we are far from OK with God is not part of Osteen's message. Somehow the truth that we are completely and utterly unrighteous and that all the best things we can do, all of our best attempts at obedience and generosity are nothing but putrid undergarments in God's nostrils is overlooked. The reality that we are all truly the objects of God's just and righteous anger and wrath towards sin just isn't in toothy Joel's gospel.

Truth is there is no good news in Osteen's good news. There's simply a veiled legalism that puts people into further bondage to laws and sin. And that further keeps them from seeing their true spiritual and eternal state and understanding their need for a true Savior.

"Your Best Life Now." An apt title for followers of Smilin' Joel's false gospel. Because they really are living their best life now. All they have to look forward to in eternity is a forever in punishment for the sin that Joel never told them about. Because he wanted to be positive.

1 comment:

Joe Blackmon said...

Great post. In his "church" sin is ignored and the precious Word of God is treated much the same as a fortune cookie with wise sayings. While God does take care of His children, to suggest that God does so as a result of what we do is silly. Also, His taking care of us does not mean that we sill have everything we WANT. Silly rabbit. Biblical theology is for GROWN UPS.