Victoria Osteen, wife of pastor Joel Osteen, made a remarkable statement the other day which must not be ignored. She claimed:
“I just want to encourage every one of us to realize when we obey God, we’re not doing it for God – I mean, that’s one way to look at it –we’re doing it for ourselves, because God takes pleasure when we’re happy. That’s the thing that gives Him the greatest joy. So, I want you to know this morning: Just do good for your own self. Do good because 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. Amen?”
It is imperative that we fully understand the heresy contained in her words. Ask yourself these questions:
When we worship, are we worshiping God or ourselves?
Are we worshipers or are we users?
Selfless or Selfish?
Christian author Tim Chaffey made some salient observations, quoting from some well-known scriptures. Jesus commands His followers to deny themselves and live lives of self-sacrifice (Luke 9:23-25; Luke 10:27-28). Jesus said the greatest commandments are to love God and love your neighbor (Matthew 22:37-39).
Chaffery contrasts Olsteen’s gospel of self-love with Jesus’ gospel of other-love and he states the obvious: “These two ideas cannot be more diametrically opposed.” (Chaffery’s observations are worthy of a complete read.)
Jesus tells us that we are to worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:23). But what does true worship entail? The apostle John described in vision the penultimate worship service, one which continually takes place in heaven (see Revelation 4).
In that fantastic worship service we see the object of worship is Jesus Christ. The four living creatures constantly say, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.”
The 24 elders cast their own crowns before Jesus and glorify Him, saying, “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”
We see throughout Scripture that the object of our worship is the one true God. Not ourselves. If our motives for worship are self-focused – to be happy, to get something from God – then we worship amiss.
The great prophet Isaiah had a similar heavenly vision and his response to that vision is well worth emulating (see Isaiah chapter 6).
A Living Sacrifice
The apostle Paul certainly disagreed with the narcissistic gospel proclaimed by the Olsteens. Paul exhorted the people of God, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship.”
We worship God whenever we genuinely offer ourselves as living sacrifices to God, pursuing His will instead of our own. Offering ourselves up to Him – denying ourselves daily – is “holy and pleasing to God” and it is the worship to which we have been called.
Jesus promised His disciples a life of hardship and suffering which He would use for His own glory. But Jesus also promised us that He would give us rest (Matthew 11:28-30), His un-surpassing peace (Phil. 4:6-7), and His inexpressible joy (1 Peter 1:8), and His unfailing love (1 Cor. 13).
True worshipers will worship Him in spirit and in truth. In doing so, they will glorify God. God is faithful and will, in the right time and the best ways, fill us to overflowing with Himself that we may fully experience the fruit of His Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).
True worship begins and end with God (not ourselves).