Joel Osteen, improbably youthful looking minister of the Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, is apparently completely unaware of the concept of sin. This is amazing, as he lives in a major metropolitan center where presumably the raw side of life should be apparent, the suffering and victimization that comes from, well, the less than stellar actions taken by people. Victims of abuse, alcoholism and abandonment are evident everywhere. It makes one wonder: Does the “Smiling Evangelist” care about all those who suffer?
It’s not hard to see why his materialistic version of Christianity is popular. Apparently Jesus came to the earth, not so much to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15), but to make us prosperous, have a nice house and wear cool clothes.
Osteen and others like him are peddling a false gospel. I’m not suggesting that it is wrong to be wealthy, merely that if wealth is the best that the gospel offers, then it is not good enough.
- What if Peter had told the lame man at the Gate Beautiful, “Here’s the silver and gold you asked for” (Acts 3:6)?
- What if Jesus had declared, “I have come that they might have money, and have it more abundantly,” referring to mere material possessions (John 10:10)?
- What if the son of man came only to put money in our bank accounts and not to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10)?
Dietrich Bonhoeffer once declared, “When Christ calls a man he bids him come and die” (The Cost of Discipleship).
Osteen says in essence: “It pays to serve Jesus.” However Jesus himself says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24).
Words such as “Christian warfare,” “repentance,” “discipleship,” and “submission” suggest that there are demands to this serving Christ business. If your religion offers you rewards only in this life, then it is not the Christian religion. It is an imposter.