Apologetics is, at it’s core, a defense of our Christian faith. There are many different flavors and branches of this, but part of apologetics is being able to discern when people are making errors related to their theology of God. What follows in this video is rife with error from both sides.
I want to start off by saying that I know some who might be reading this like Joel Osteen and what his church does. I’ll be up front and say that I don’t. I don’t believe that the Bible says that we should be happy, have great self-esteem, and prosper. I do believe that we are called to be joyful, but not happy. Biblically, these words have two different meanings. I do believe that the Bible says we will be persecuted for our faith. In fact, I don’t have to believe it. I can read it:
11 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. – Matthew 5:11-12 (NKJV)
As this verse says, our reward is heavenly, not here. We are aliens in this land and are simply passing through.
OK, enough preamble. Here is the video that shows what I’m riled up about.
The first thing that jumps out at me is Oprah’s comment of, “What kind of God wants you to be poor and miserable?” How can that statement even be defensible? When making this comment, it’s extremely easy to make the theological leap that God favors those who are rich and ignores those who are poor. Not everyone will be wealthy. However, since Oprah isn’t a pastor I won’t hold her to a higher standard on this.
However, Osteen immediately says that he agrees with Oprah on this statement. Our lives here are not going to always be happy and sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes bad things are going to happen. Job was a righteous man, yet God allowed his family, his riches, his possessions to be taken away from him. Did Job turn his back on God? No! Job’s friends told him that God was punishing him for some unconfessed sin he had, but Job remained steadfast in his faith.
“Prospering is peace in your mind, and health in your body”, says Osteen. So, if someone does not have peace in their mind or health in their body, then they aren’t prospering? Jacob lived with a limp because he wrestled with God. Does this mean that Jacob did not prosper? Paul makes reference to a thorn in his side, something many theologians believe to be some health issue. Did this mean that Paul did not prosper?
“There’s a belief that you should suffer more, and be poor, and show your humility. I don’t see the Bible that way. Jesus died that we might have an abundant life and be a blessing to others. I can’t be a big blessing to people if I’m poor and broke and depressed, I don’t feel good about myself.”
Wrong, wrong, and wrong. Jesus died as a sacrifice for our sins to pay a debt we could not. Jesus didn’t die so that we could have a “better life now”. Our better life now won’t mean squat in eternity if we don’t know Christ as our savior. I simply don’t understand the statement about how you can’t be a blessing to others if you are poor or broke or depressed. I’ve seen poor people who are able to bless others simply through their words and their deeds. They don’t have to give anything to be a blessing. Learning from their knowledge and experience is a blessing.
I believe that your view of what a blessing is reflects your view of what is important. If material things are what you view as a blessing, then material things are what you enjoy. Over the years, I’ve known times when we’ve had plenty and times when we’ve had little. It can’t stop a person from giving and blessing others because they have little, the blessings just take a different form.
We should be different from the world. The world should notice our humility (but don’t take pride in it, remember?) and see that something about us is not the same. What we see as prosperity could actually be greed in disguise. I’m reminded of the girl that we sponsor in Honduras. I’m sure she thinks that we are rich beyond imagination. For an amount less than what it takes for a single tank of gas, she receives food for a month. We don’t need to be rich in order to do this. We simply have to be willing. Blessings arise out of our hearts, not our wallets.