“The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips then walk out the door and deny him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.”
Christians often need to feel convicted. There are times when we’re going about our lives doing things we shouldn’t be doing. We convince ourselves that it’s “no big deal” or procrastinate about doing something to get a hold over an area of our lives where sin is controlling us. When we’re in church, or with church friends or in a church-like environment, it is very easy for us to say we’re going to do something differently. But where we fall short is outside of that umbrella of protection. It’s when we go to work, or to school or even to our homes where that conviction needs to follow us and to seek the Lord when we feel that urge to sin eating away at us.
What does any of this have to do with Joel Osteen?
Well, Joel Osteen is almost like a rock star in the realm of television evangelism. He’s the Pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas boasting a congregation of around 30,000 people. He’s sold millions of copies of his book, “Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential.” Churchreport.com has him number 1 on their list of the 50 most influential Christians in America. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a large church. Andy Stanley’s church has a 15,000 member congregation. Max Lucado has sold millions of books and Billy Graham is number two on that same list.
But there is something missing from Joel Osteens ministry that you’ll find in the ministry of Stanley, Lucado and Graham. That is conviction. Why did Jesus die on the cross at Cavalry? He died for our sins and they were washed away with his blood. How can a person understand what it means to accept Christ as their Savior if they don’t have a rudimentary understanding of why he died? You’ll never hear Osteen discuss sin in his sermons. It’s all positive. This doesn’t mean that I want Osteen to browbeat his congregation or have people walking out each week sobbing with grief. But his ‘Christian-light’ style of preaching is not going to convict anybody. If anybody amongst that 30,000 is dealing with sin in their lives (and plenty of them are), what tools is Osteen giving them to help overcome that. Nothing. You can’t think positive thoughts and have it overcome sin. After all, what do we look to Pastors for? Spiritual guidance. They’re not supposed to tell us what we want to hear, but what we don’t want to hear.
What if you went to the doctor because you were feeling pain somewhere and he told you, “Don’t worry about it” after doing an examination. Meanwhile, what you had was an ulcer and you didn’t change your lifestyle in any way. Why would you? You were advised by somebody with real knowledge of the issue to “not worry about it.” The consequences of course, could be disastrous. That’s what Osteen is basically saying. “Don’t worry about it.” It’s a “don’t worry, be happy” message he preaches. And it is one that will not guide people to seek change in their lifestyle outside of that safety zone. As such, it could lead to disastrous consequences.