They found him on the other side of the lake and asked, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs. But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval.” (John 6:25-27)
Read: Psalm 12-17, 19-21
Relate: Have you seen this yet?
Victoria Olsteen says, “I just want to encourage every one of us to realize, 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 because 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. Amen?”
The cut in from Bill Cosby responds: “That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard in my life.”
React: I agree with Bill Cosby. Except, I wouldn’t necessarily say dumb so much as sad.
Now to be fair, it is easy to take a short portion, a small clip like this out of context. Before we jump all over the heresy of these few sentences it would be good to hear it within the larger context of what is being said. It is quite possible that they aren’t as dumb/heretical/misguided as it seems in the thirty-something seconds we have here. The problem I have is that the reason such an out-of -context statement could even be recorded and go viral is because the focus of the entire ministry is wrong.
Like the crowds who followed Jesus, the crowds who are hearing and reading Joel Osteen are all coming for the wrong reasons. They have the wrong motivations. Joel Osteen writes a book, Your Best Life Now, that encourages believers to begin to see themselves through the eyes of the Creator. The problem is, what most people read, Christians and non-Christians alike, is, “If we can only think more positively about ourselves we can accomplish anything.” There is a disconnect. Jesus saw the hungry crowd and in compassion, He fed them. They turned around and started saying, “Hey, we’ve found ourselves a free meal ticket.” There is a disconnect. Jesus immediately, and consistently, corrected this problem. Have the Olsteens? If so, then how could such a quote as the one above be possible?
The truth is, reasons matter. Motivations matter. if we keep chasing after God for what He can do for us, we will find that He keeps “slipping away”. God isn’t consummately concerned with our happiness. He is more concerned that we have love, peace, kindness, faithfulness, joy and self-control. If it takes us getting unhappy to grow some of these then He will let us be unhappy. As long as we are living for ourselves and not Him, we will never find “our best life now”.
God, my heart is Yours. If it takes physical hunger for me to learn a spiritual hunger for Yo, then keep the food away. If it takes godly sorrow for me to have the joy of knowing You, then bring on the tears. Let my motivation be You. Let my desires be on eternal things. Don’t ever let the blessings from Your hand take my gaze off the beauty of Your face or my pursuit from the beating of Your heart.