Your Best Life Now?: Medidations On Osteen’s Prosperity Gospel And On Bernanke   2 comments

Although none of you will believe me, I sat on the Red Line across from Ben Bernanke, the Federal Chair. Bernanke probably thought I was a stalker because I was staring at him for about ten minutes (from Silver Spring to Wheaton). But I was only staring at him because I was perplexed with his humble outfit of slacks, polo shirt, and satchel. Still, I’m sure it was Bernanke—I might not know much about economics—but I’m sure that it was Bernanke. In my ten minutes of staring, I thought, maybe President Obama is punishing Bernanke for the state of our nation’s economy by withholding his pay—that would explain the outfit from Ross and his relocation to Wheaton, MD.

Ben Bernanke

But all that is just a side thought. Because the real thought I wanted to share has to do with Joel Osteen and his best-selling book “Your Best Life Now.” (All of this is only slightly related to Bernanke. I just thought it was cool that I ran into him and, yes, it was Bernanke—I’m sure of it.)

Any financial planner who encourages you to spend, spend, spend without regard to the future would not last long, as all of his clients would undoubtedly fall into financial ruin. “You make $35,000 a year and your dream car is a Porsche GT2? Take out a loan and buy the car now!” “You earn $40,000 a year but a man is willing to sell you his beach house as long as you can make the $35,000 a year payments for the next 30 years? What are you waiting for? Sign the contract!” “You are unemployed and are living off your savings, but want to spend the rest of that money on video games? Live it up and enjoy your best life now!”

I hope you can see the folly of such thinking. The responsible way to secure satisfaction is to save up for the future. Porsche GT2? Save up $20,000 a year for the next ten years and you will finally be able to drive in style. Beach house? Work hard and save up. Want happiness now without paying for it later? Save, save, save.

This is why it is so confounding that so many people have embraced Joel Osteen’s “Your Best Life Now” without giving his line of thinking a second thought. In fact, what works in financial planning and happiness works similarly to spiritual planning and happiness. Your best life does not come now, but it comes at the end when the goal you’ve been working for has been achieved. The Bible calls us to “let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:1-3).

Osteen, claiming to be a preacher of Jesus Christ, tells us that we must buy, we must spend, and we must live to find joy right now. Let tomorrow worry about itself, but focus on living it up now. Buy that bigger house; get that bigger job; go on that vacation—because that is where our happiness lies. The Bible, the very Word of Jesus Christ, says something a bit different. It tells us to “lay aside every encumbrance” and to “run with endurance.” It tells us that we must follow the example of Jesus Christ, who “endured the cross” and despised “the shame” and “endured such hostility.” It warns us against growing weary and losing heart. Growing weary—of living for the present? Losing heart—of doing whatever we want? Inconceivable.

Osteen’s words are incompatible with everything that Jesus Christ taught us about the Christian life. Today is not our best life—in fact, this is the worst life a Christian will ever have. For this is the furthest from Jesus Christ any Christian will ever be. For a Christian, this life contains sufferings and persecutions. A Christian is called to love Jesus Christ and to store up for a future life with Him in heaven—to do everything contrary to what the rest of the world is doing.

Joel Osteen—he’s just preaching the world’s message in Jesus’ name. The rest of the world truly does have their best life now. That is because they are living to fulfill their pleasures in the present (and in the near future). They are living without any regard to what Jesus Christ has preached to them about their sins and the consequences that they will have to face unless they turn from their sins and turn to Jesus Christ. Their best life is now because their next life—their eternal life—will only be filled with pain and suffering as they will face the full force of God’s wrath against their sin. Osteen is putting up a happy smile and encouraging people to live now so that they might die forever. This is not the gospel and this is not how you get closer to Jesus Christ—this is not the purpose He has for your life. Instead, heed the words of Jesus Christ: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).

The faster car, the bigger house, the better toys—you can have that all now if you wish. Or you can hold off on that in order to get an even greater treasure—an eternity in the presence of Jesus Christ, the very one who provides us with the car, the house and the toys—and the very one who promises that the Giver of the gifts is greater than the gifts itself. Endure now so that you can enjoy your best life later.

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Posted August 13, 2009 by Mitchell J. Kim in Uncategorized

2 responses to “Your Best Life Now?: Medidations On Osteen’s Prosperity Gospel And On Bernanke

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  1. As you sit in you underwear in front of your new computer in your air conditioned house on a nice suburban street, why don’t you tell us how YOU are suffering for Christ? You talk the talk, but you don’t walk it. There are millions of people in Muslim countries being told that Muhammed is God’s prophet and that Christ was not God’s son. Why aren’t you there telling them the truth? Is it too dangerous? Would you suffer too much? Islam is engulfing Europe… France and Germany will be Muslim countries within 49 years. Yet, you sit in the comfort of your nice house in America and attack Joel Osteen. You and all like you are hypocrits! Jesus talked about people like you and the place you are destined to spend eternity.

    • Hi Don,

      Thanks for your response. First, I want to state that God has not called everyone to be missionaries. He has roles for everyone in the church, just as there are many parts to the body. I’m sure you’re familiar with that illustration.

      Second, what makes you think that I haven’t been to a Muslim country? I do understand the prevalence of Islam in the world right now and it’s oppression of faithful Christians. I understand because I’ve seen it… in Jordan (a Muslim country).

      I understand your dislike of hypocrites. And I don’t come to you as one who has suffered more than others or has suffered anything even comparable to so many Christians around the world who are bleeding and dying for the sake of the gospel. I come to you as a believer in Jesus Christ who is blessed with more luxuries than some others, and very thankful for that. But I would only hope that God would use me (possibly in the mission field) to expand His kingdom.

      Irrespective of that, Joel Osteen’s “gospel message” is no saving gospel because Jesus Christ is not at the center of it–He is on the fringe of a message that says that, if you believe, God will give you all the worldly riches you can dream of. That is not the gospel and that is not how Jesus Christ lived.

      BTW… which Muslim country are you living in right now?

      Thanks for the comment. I don’t really assume many read my blog and I welcome any comments.

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