Most of you in this group grew up in church or have been in and around church for a long time. But at one point in your life you were not a Christian, had not been saved and then decided, made a choice, to follow Christ, to become a Christian. How long has it been since you thought about why you did that?
Recently a quote from Victoria Osteen, the wife of Joel Osteen, has caused a stir in Evangelical circles. Below is a video of her statement. Watch it and see what you think. (I apologize for the quality and any ads, it was all I could find)
So lets take a minute to break down what Ms. Osteen says.
1. God wants us to be happy, it is the thing that gives him the greatest joy.
2. When we obey God by doing good it makes us happy. She is not explicit about the link between obeying God and happiness, but I will assume ad arguendo, that God blesses us when we do good and we are therefore happy which makes God happy.
3. Quod erat demonstrandum, when we obey God it is for ourselves because it brings us happiness.
Did I get that right? Is that what you thought she said? I’m not asking here if you agree, just if I accurately rendered what Ms. Osteen said. If not, what do you think she said?
Now let’s read something from the Apostle Paul in Phillipians 3:7-11.
But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith inChrist—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead
Now let’s break down what Paul says.
1. Everything that previously made me happy I am now throwing away like garbage in order that I can know Christ.
2. By knowing Christ, I hope to become like Him, not through my own actions but on the basis of righteousness that comes from faith.
3. I hope to be like Him in all respects including His sufferings, His death, and ultimately, His resurrection.
How did I do with what Paul said? Did I miss something? What would you add or subtract?
Now lets ask some questions:
1. Is God’s greatest joy for us to be happy? Why or why not?
2. Is God opposed to us being happy?
3. What is it that God ultimately rejoices in? (Here are some hints: John 3:16-17, Matthew 8:12-14, Luke 15:4-10).
4. Based on their statements above (which are surely not the full body of either’s work), what do you think Ms. Osteen and Paul would say about why we should be Christians? Are their answers different, the same, looking at the same thing from different angles?
5. What are you in it for, why are you a Christian?