Sunday, October 26, 2008

“What’s God Got to Do With It?”

Newsweek has an interesting article on Victoria Osteen and her new book, Love Your Life. Ms. Osteen and her husband Joel are pastors of one of the largest churches in America, and tens of thousands are buying into their idea of religion as “appreciating what God's given us. He's given us this life, and he wants us to live it to the fullest” (from Lisa Miller's interview with Victoria). The writer’s response to Victoria’s prosperity-gospel: “All this is fine, in the pages of a women's magazine or a self-help book. But what has God got to do with it?”

I don’t know the writer of the article or if she is a true believer in Christ, but what was striking to me was that an editor of a news source not known for its adherence to evangelical belief would come to that conclusion. That seems to show more discernment than many of the followers of prosperity-gospel philosophy. Despite the counsel of much contemporary Christianity, I think the world is looking for something different in Christians, especially ministers. If Christianity has nothing transcendent to offer, why bother?

Everyone wants to be happy and live life to the fullest. But how would we counsel a seeker or practice it ourselves? John Piper puts it this way in the opening words to his book, The Supremacy of God in Preaching:
People are starving for the greatness of God. But most of them would not give this diagnosis of their troubled lives. The majesty of God is an unknown cure. There are far more popular prescriptions on the market, but the benefit of any other remedy is brief and shallow. Preaching that does not have the aroma of God’s greatness may entertain for a season, but it will not touch the hidden cry of the soul: “Show me thy glory!” (The Supremacy of God in Preaching. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House. 1990, p. 9)
In times like these, when the economy is down and people are losing their jobs, how do we find comfort and practice our faith? By looking inside ourselves? How about gazing on God in His greatness and believing that since He gave us His Son, He will provide us with everything we need! That's the essence of the Christian life: to trust and enjoy God now amidst suffering and uncertainty and to be willing to wait for our best life then, when we're with Him.

How would you summarize Christianity? What is religion all about?

Also by John Piper on happiness and the greatness of God—