It’s About Us?
That, in a nutshell, was what Victoria Osteen, wife of best-selling author and prosperity preacher Joel Osteen, declared in a worship service of their Lakewood Church, reportedly the biggest church in America. Her husband was with her when she proclaimed,
When we obey God, we’re not doing it for God. I mean, that’s one way to look at it. 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. So I want you to know this morning, just do good—for your own self. Do good ’cause 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. (Source: YouTube. Emphasis mine.)
Yes, “God takes pleasure when we’re happy.” God really wants us to be happy. Of course, worship and obedience make us happy, too. However, ultimately, it’s not about us. It’s about Him. The focus of worship is not our happiness but God’s glory.
According to Psalm 115:1, “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!” (ESV) To divert the focus from God to us is narcissism or plain self-centeredness.
For scholar Dan Wallace, this worship-to-be-happy declaration is just a “Symptom of a Larger Problem.” It appears to be just the proverbial tip of the iceberg.
How we treat one another, how we honor God, what our understanding of and commitment to the gospel is, and how we measure true success all need a serious overhaul. The root problem seems to be twofold: the marginalization of the word of God and the ‘buddyization’ of Jesus Christ. The scriptures have become irrelevant and the Lord of glory is now immanent but not transcendent in our hearts. (Source: http://danielbwallace.com/. Emphasis mine.)
Ignorance of the Word and the Lord is the iceberg.
|Victoria Osteen's worship-to-be-hapy declaration appears to be just the proverbial tip of the iceberg. Image credit|
When Bible verses are taken out of context and dished out like fortune cookie messages, when we preach it to make us feel good and not to make us focus on God, then we are misusing the Word of God.
You’re going to find that there will be times when people will have no stomach for solid teaching, but will fill up on spiritual junk food—catchy opinions that tickle their fancy. They’ll turn their backs on truth and chase mirages. (2 Timothy 4:3-4, The Message.)
There was a time when it became a fad here to call our Lord Jesus as our “Bro.” Though it appears to be an attempt to make him more human to us, to bring him closer to us, yet He is not our divine big brother. He is Lord. He is not just a buddy to us.
|When Bible verses are taken out of context and dished out like fortune cookie messages, when we preach it to make us feel good and not to make us focus on God, then we are misusing the Word of God. Image credit|
But, instead of merely wagging an accusing finger to the Osteens, we have to ask ourselves if we see worship the way they looked at it. A friend from seminary gave an insightful analysis about it. We are all prone to focus on ourselves, not on God.
|When we measure our worship with how we felt after the service, we are not doing it for God. We are doing it for ourselves. Image credit|
When all we ask is, “Did you enjoy the worship service?” or “Did you like the sermon?” we are also in effect declaring what Osteen proclaimed. When we measure our worship with how we felt after the service, we are not doing it for God. We are doing it for ourselves. We tend to become self-centered, too. When we focus on God, we defocus on ourselves. When we focus on ourselves, we defocus on Him.
Ecclesiastes 12:13 reminds us, “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”
It’s all about God. Not about us.