If you spend much time on social media, it is likely that you have seen the clip of Joel Osteen’s wife, Victoria, imploring Lakewood Church to worship God because “when we obey God, we’re not doing it for God…we’re doing it for ourselves, because God takes pleasure when we’re happy.”
Is Victoria right? Did she really mean what she said?
In an article printed in The Blaze, Mrs. Osteen later acknowledged that “I could have been more articulate in my remarks” but reinforced her claim that “when we worship God and are obedient to Him we will be better for it.”[i]
OK, I’ll buy that. There is no question that we are better off when we worship God. Of course, that depends on what we call “better off.” If Victoria means that worship of God will produce greater health and wealth, then she has forgotten to take into account folks like George Mueller, Hudson Taylor, and the Apostle Paul. Oh, yeah, and Jesus. However, if she meant that in the end the best thing for us is to worship God, then I’ll give her an “Amen.” After all, that’s why we’re here.
My point is not to crucify Victoria. What she said in the infamous telecast was downright wrong. However, I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt—maybe she just suffered from a moment of communicative malfunction. For goodness sakes, I stand guilty of that myself. Just ask the folks in my church.
The problem is that what she said is indicative of the common thought pattern of the church today. God is a cosmic bellboy who is obligated to instantly cater to my selfish demands. I am willing to worship Him as long as He gives me what I want. After all, the reason He exists is to make me happy.
Pastor Steve Camp has rightly pointed out that the idea that God’s purpose is to make us happy is paramount to idolatry.[ii] Idolatry is when anything (even self) comes before God. He created the universe with one goal in mind—glorification of Himself. The reason that anything exists is to bring Him glory.
You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created. (Revelation 4:11 NKJV)
. . .All things were created through Him and for Him. (Colossians 1:16)
Why do we exist? To glorify God. We owe Him everything; He owes us nothing. Therefore, when you worship God, do it for Him. Not yourself. Anything else is idolatry.
[i] “Pastor Joel Osteen’s Wife Hits Back at ‘Critics and Cynics’ and Addresses Furor Over Her Viral Sermon About Worshipping God.” 2014. The Blaze. http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/09/05/exclusive-victoria-osteen-responds-to-evangelical-furor-over-viral-youre-not-doing-it-for-god-clip/.
[ii] “‘Do Good for Your Own Self.” 2014. Christian News Network. Accessed September 8. http://christiannews.net/2014/08/28/do-good-for-your-own-self-osteen-says-obedience-worship-not-for-god-video/.