Thursday, 11 September 2014

Whose Prosperity Do We To Serve

Victoria Osteen, who is the wife and co-pastor of mega-church pastor and televangelist celebrity Joel Osteen, has raised a lot of eyebrows in Christian circles by her recent statement.  Victoria Osteen has been reported to have said:
When we obey God, we're not doing it for God...we're doing it for ourself. Because God takes pleasure when we're happy. Do good 'cause 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.

This is obviously wrong on many levels and particularly when you consider what Jesus Christ taught and what Christians generally profess.  How do you reconcile this with statements such as, turn the other cheek, go the second mile ,  and of course the beatitudes such as blessed are the pure in spirit and the meek shall inherit the earth, blessed are the peacemakers, blessed are the poor.  I probably don’t need to go on.  The statement by Victoria Osteen smacks of the prosperity Gospel which holds that, “financial blessing is the will of Godfor Christians, and that faith, positive speech, and donations to Christian ministries will always increase one's material wealth”.   The Osteen’s are apparently big in the Prosperity Gospel movement (if I can call it that).
The basic problem that I see with this theology is that it gives free reign to the ego and all that the ego desires.  Humans can easily fall into the hubris of creating God in our own image rather than what we are told in Genesis — that we were created in God’s image, male and female He created us.  The ego is our great gift from God and an integral part of being created in God’s image.  The Ego is an integral part of what makes is conscious beings and knowing that we are Children of God and not the centre of the universe.  However, the ego also wants to keep things in our lives just as they are.  The ego hates and resists change.  It wants security and comfort.  As Richard Rohr noted, “if there is one thing that the ego hates more than anything else, is to change. I know that if I keep meditating, it is going to change my worldview, my priorities, and my preferences”. 

That is what we called to do.  We are called to put God ahead of ourselves and to try as best we can to do God’s will and not our ego’s will with my priorities and my preferences.  The Prosperity Gospel emphasizes the importance of personal empowerment, holding that it is God's will for his people to be happy.  I believe God does want us to be happy.  However true happiness for people comes when the ego is in service to God and not in maintaining our self-interest.  I will close with quote from Br. Robert L'Esperance, Society of Saint John the Evangelist, “In the Christian worldview we’re not at the center of everything. God is the center of things: God and God’s creation, of which we’re a small, wonderful, privileged part. John 10:10 reminds us that Jesus, not overconsumption, is the way to “abundant life”.”  Blessings.

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