Mar 8, 2012

Why Jesus Wasn't a Very Good Christian According to Prosperity Gospel

Joel Osteen is the pastor of the largest congregation in the United States. I have no issues with the man selling millions and millions of copies of his books. 

Good for him. I have no issues with the man being on television and the radio. I have no issues with him for leading the largest congregation in the US.

Where I do take issue is with what he is preaching under the guise of Christianity. 

I know that hundreds and thousands of people are helped through his messages. And thank God for that because God can work in a myriad of ways. But just because someone’s on Christian tv, or their books are in Christians bookstores doesn’t make their teaching right.

Joel Osteen says:

Because of the price He paid we have a right to live in total victory. Not partial victory to where we have a good family we have good health but we constantly struggle in our finances. That’s not total victory. If God did it for you in one area He can do it in another area. 

Get a vision for it. 

I know people who have plenty of money and they have good health but they can’t get along in relationships. There is always strife in their home, that is not total victory. Maybe God’s blessed you and you have a good family and a good job but you’ve had pain in your body for years and years, you used to stand against it, you used to believe you could be free. But now it’s been so long you’ve just decided, this is my lot in life... But Jesus has paid the price that we may be totally free. That means free from bad habits and addictions, free from discouragement and depression, free from poverty and lack, free from low self-esteem. God wants us to be totally free. 

The Scripture tells us to take hold of all that Christ died and rose again for. God made you healthy and whole, our original state is total freedom...Let me assure you He didn’t create you to be average. 

He didn’t create you to barely get by and have all kinds of things holding you back. You’ve got to get the right vision God created you to be totally free, to have peace in your mind, to walk in divine health, to have good relationships, to have plenty to pay your bills...You have rights and privileges. One of those privileges is total victory.   

We’re supposed to be unquestionably free, that means free in our mind free from worry. Free from poverty and lack, no matter what the bank account looks like our attitude is I know I am blessed and I cannot be cursed. Whatever I touch is going to prosper and succeed.

So in essence, according Joel Osteen, “Walking with Christ in victory means that you are wealthy and free from poverty and lack, with good relationships, free from pain, living life without anxiety.” 

Sign me up? Who wouldn’t want that? That’s awesome. 

Only one problem. There’s not a shred of evidence in the Bible to support that.

If God’s plan for Christ-followers is to be free from poverty and lack and to be wealthy, Jesus flunks that test.
·      He was born into a poor carpenter’s family
·      Spent three years flat broke and homeless, sometimes going hungry
·      And when it came to pay His taxes, He couldn’t afford it.

Then there’s the relationship thing. Osteen says that living a victorious Christian life means that we are free from strained relationships. Well, Jesus flunks this test too.
·      His family disowned Him
·      His friends abandoned Him
·      Judas betrayed Him
·      Peter denied Him
·      The religious leaders hated Him
·      And the crowds screamed for His blood
When living for God, you can guarantee opposition from those who are against God. 

Living in victory with God means you will live a life free from pain and disease? Jesus flunks this test too.
·      Jesus was beaten, spat upon, crown of thorns upon His head
·      Scourged, beaten, and whipped
·      Crucified and nailed to the cross
·      You know what that is? Pain. Excruciating, horrendous pain.
·      I’ve never met with someone in the hospital who chose their disease.  I meet with people regularly who live with chronic pain.  And you’re going to tell these people that their not living their lives right with God because of their chronic pain and illness? 

Living in victory means a life free from anxiety, worry, and despair? Jesus flunks another one.
·      Jesus was falsely accused, by false witnesses, endured a false trial, and faced a false execution.
·      The night before Jesus’ arrest, He couldn’t sleep and He was so stressed out that He literally sweat drops of blood.

Gee. Jesus wasn’t a very good Christian was He?

This kind of come to Jesus and you’ll be happy go lucky and everything will be all right.  You’ll be rich and you’ll be free of pain. While it is incredibly tempting, it is simply not true.

You see, Jesus did promise the abundant life. But the abundant life is not focused on what happens here on earth, but what happens for eternity.

What happens here is so minuscule compared to what God promises in eternity that when the Apostle talked about the riches of earth he called it crap compared to Christ. 

Jesus did not die on the cross to fulfill our selfish dreams of wealth and health.

Jesus died on the cross so that we would see beyond our mere 70, 80, 90 years here on earth and genuinely become citizens of eternity.


teacher_deb said...

I have been reading The Jesus I Never Knew by Yancey. I have been on this journey of who is this Jesus? before but have not read this author. I like what he reminds us about Jesus... that he has a bunch of different factions in society against Him. The Pharasies and the Roman government and Herod ( what a creepy guy!) Jesus wasn't making friends in his Jewish community either. They were all sort of surpried at him speaking about things of a holy nature wondering where he got the authoruty... Relation ships maybe not... his family even thought he was crazy.. and wealth..well I think if you were born a carpenter's son you had a pretty humble life. Not much food and not much money... Yeah I think the wealth part... not so much. He was always staying with friends or folks who would actually have him at thier house. Most of them were not the religious leaders they were the tax collectors and the "others".
The part that I am sort of pondering on from Yancey's book is the "what do you suppose he looked like?" It has been on my mind so much I had a dream that I was walking on a road with all these people and we were going to see Jesus.. I was so excited, but when we got there I didn't recognize him at first because (OK it was a dream right ??) he looked kind of like Yoda. He was person colored not green, but had big ears and was stumpy and wrinkly.. it was so crazy but then I have been thinking how do we think we WILL recognize Jesus? This is a huge pondering for me. How WILL I know Him?

James Kim said...

Deb, that's what I preached about on this past Sunday. When you get a chance, give it a listen on the church web page.

dhollifield said...

The reward for faithfulness in the Old Testament was prosperity; the reward for faithfulness in the New Testament is tribulation.

Presbyman said...

The Apostle Paul, who suffered from the "thorn in the side," was also not a good Christian, if you follow the logic of Joel Osteen's "theology."

James Kim said...

Pres myna, you are absolutely right about the Apostle Paul. We could claim that ten of the original twelve disciples were not very good Christians as they were martyred for their faith.

Good stuff.

Thanks for the comment.

James <><

James Kim said...

Deb H,

That is an interesting dynamic that is more prevalent in the OT. Have to think about that some more. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I'm actually a Nichiren Buddhist. But I find this comment on Joel Osteen's Happy-Go-Lucky definition of happiness on Earth very inspiring and to the point. Real happiness doesn't mean not having problems or worry or strife: it means choosing to believe in your God, your inner strength, your highest nature, etc. and that this means you can rise above and conquer any obstacles in your path. That is a truly great way for a human being to live across all religions, to generalize a bit, and I think it is much more in accord with how Jesus actually lived than simply believing that he will make all of your problems disappear.