Let’s begin with a pop quiz. If I told you a well-known public figure did the following:
- Repeatedly denies the main focus of the Gospel.
- Consistently watered down and distorted Biblical teaching.
- Believes the purpose of human life is to glorify yourself and not God.
Which side would you say such a person is on?
The “person” in question here is none other than Joel Osteen, otherwise known as “America’s Pastor.”
Pastor of what exactly is open to interpretation, depending on the prevailing winds of pop culture and what helps pad the bank account at the time.
It’s been said the greatest trick the devil ever pulled is convincing the world he doesn’t exist. Satan doesn’t usually show up in a bright red suit and a pitchfork. No, the devil knows we are visually and sensually driven creatures. So Satan is usually glamorous, titillating, and smiling with a bright double-decker of pearly whites. Never forget the most poisonous serpents are often the prettiest.
We fall for it because we judge based on what’s on the outside; and from the outside, Joel Osteen has it going on. He lives in a $10 million mansion with his movie-star gorgeous wife. He’s the rare 51-year old man with six-pack abs. His publicity tours generate so much demand that scalpers can ask for up to $850 per ticket. He renovated an NBA team’s old arena for $105 million to house the nation’s largest “church” there. His estimated net worth is at least $40 million.
From the outside, Joel Osteen lives a life the world covets. There’s just one problem with that. I can’t think of a single truly great figure in the 2,000-year history of Christianity who didn’t pay some kind of worldly price for defending the faith—beginning with Christ himself at the Cross. On the other hand, it seems as if the world is paying Osteen quite handsomely for the self-esteem gospel according to Joel.
By the way, while the Cross where Christ died for the sins of the world is the most recognized symbol in history, you won’t find one of those at Osteen’s “church.” You won’t find too much talk about suffering, sin, and salvation, either. Instead, you’ll find a lot of shiny, happy people. Just like Joel Osteen. A team always takes on the characteristics of its (life) coach. After being beaten, imprisoned, ship-wrecked, and beheaded for his beliefs, the Apostle Paul, who wrote most of the New Testament, would be unrecognizable to Osteen’s adherents.
Happiness draws a crowd. We all want to be happy. The problem is what often makes us happy are the instruments of our destruction. For example, we do drugs to be happy, which is why we call it “getting high” and not “getting low.”
But God sees what’s on the inside. And what He sees is that something is very wrong with the inside of us. We’re spiteful, greedy, selfish, dishonest, lustful, prideful, and at times capable of unspeakable evil.
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