Christians around the world have been reacting with a mix of stunned horror and comedic reaction to Lakewood Church co-pastor Victoria Osteen’s recent sermon in which the televangelist Joel Osteen’s wife remarked that “when we obey God, we’re doing it for ourself”. Many took to Twitter to express their dismay at Mrs. Osteen’s disturbing sermon. Besides the glaringly incorrect grammar that Osteen used, her comments immediately make the biblically literate Christian uncomfortable for a number of reasons. The Scriptures are replete with God’s commands to do His will and obey His commandments simply because He is God, and that, as God loves us, so we should love Him and show our love by honoring His will. Osteen tells a decidedly different gospel:
“I just wanna encourage every one of us to realize [that] when we obey God, we’re not doin’ it for God — I mean, that’s one way to look at it. [But] we’re doin’ it for ourself! 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 doin’ it for God really, you’re doin’ it for yourself! Because that’s what makes God happy. Amen! Let’s open our hearts to Him today!”
It continues to sadden and astound me that so many people continue to trust in the Osteen’s “gospel”, which bears almost no resemblance to the authentic Gospel of Jesus Christ, but is a false gospel of which St. Paul warned in his letter to the Galatians (Gal. 1:6-9). The Osteens preach the “prosperity gospel” which says that all we need to do to please God is pursue happiness on our own terms. Notice that Osteen never talks about Jesus, or His saving sacrifice on the Cross and His loving redemption of all mankind.
As she and her husband are both multimillionaires who have made millions from indoctrinating people with their false gospel, it is unsurprising that Mrs. Osteen never mentions Jesus’ instructions to the rich man, in which our Lord Himself (Matthew 19:16-24) remarks that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of heaven. While many have interpreted this Scripture in a diversity of ways, Mrs. Osteen would do well to contemplate it for her next Sunday sermon rather than give a sermon so completely divorced from and opposed to the Lord’s Gospel.