Monthly Archives: December 2014

Joel Osteen At The Beach

Whenever I’m in a hotel room I try to catch up on what’s going on out there in TV land. One of the first things I do is tune in to what I call the “God channels.” I want to know what people who have cable are being told about the God of the Bible. It’s quite alarming.
When I saw America’s Pastor, Joel Osteen, for the first time, I thought I was being salesmotized into buying “my best life now.”
A bare stage with a slowly turning globe served as a backdrop to Osteen as he spoke. Whispering and gently pleading out his words, through what looked like a forced smile, he talked about going to the beach to play football as a young man.
“Before we played we’d always cover ourselves with lotion so we wouldn’t get sunburn,” he said in his characteristic friendly southern accent.
“Then when people would try to tackle us, their hands would slide off of us. (Dramatic pause for effect)
“This is what the anointing is like. People try to grab you and drag you down. They tell you you’re not good enough or smart enough, that you don’t deserve God’s best, but they can’t do it, ‘cause you’ve got the anointing. They can’t hold on to you, their hands slip off.”
While he spoke, the program’s producer kept flashing back and forth from scene to scene like the swing of a gold watch on a long chain. First to the tens of thousands gathering at the stadium-like church to close-up shots of affirmatively-nodding listeners and then back to Joel. It was like the producer was saying, “look at Pastor Joel, now see how big this place is, see how people agree with Pastor Joel, now look at Joel and listen to him.”
I could feel myself being pulled in.
Next, Osteen described how his church had been turned down by a bank for a $1 million loan for a renovation of the bathrooms and foyer. He said he had since come to realize he had faithlessly succumbed to the “Skinny goat” mentality. This was apparently a strange application of the story of the Prodigal Son, he explained but for the life of me I could not understand. Because of this faithless act God was not pleased and that’s why they were declined for the loan. Then, someone with more faith than he had told him the people of God deserved better. If he had real faith, the man told Joel, he would apply for a $14 Million loan to do the project right. They applied for the larger loan and were approved.
“The people of God deserve the best,” he concluded as the crowd erupted in applause.
As I sat there then I was amazed. No one seemed to notice the emperor had no clothes. As I sit here now I’m ashamed of our nakedness.
We, the church, have been guilty of selling what we were told never to sell.
The Kingdom of God is like a man who found a treasure in a field and sold all he had to buy the field. Instead, we act like we found a repossessed property, fixed it up and now we’re ready to flip it for a good profit.
Our churches have become shopping malls and our ministers are masters in the art of the deal instead of master builders.
This is not the message of The Kingdom. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against sales or salesmen, they have their place. Just not as our evangelists and church leaders. One of the most exciting parts of the Gospel is that it’s not for sale. Jesus already paid for what we could never buy and offers it to us freely for His own glory.
Watching Christians offer up salvation on the silver platter of self-benefit and under the glass of ease is embarrassing and shameful.
For me it’s like a gourmet chocolate commercial selling sex as much as candy as the model sensually places the food into her mouth. We have gone too far and need to repent.
We can begin to repent today by offering the Christ of scripture. No beauty to be desired, despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
Yes he is foolishness to the world and a stumbling block to those who will not believe, but for those who believe he is the power and glory of God.