Sunday, July 15, 2007

How does your pastor define success?

I finally got around to watching an entire Joel Osteen broadcast. I am not surprised by his popularity. Joel mentioned the word success over and over and over. He listed examples of material rewards for faith in God's power to move in our lives. Who doesn't want to hear that God wants you to have a big house, a new car, and a great job.

But does He really? Silly little ignorant Dayle - of course He does. God said He will provide for you, He will fill your cup to overflowing, He wants the best for you. He wants you to prosper.

Okay, fine. But our definition of success in our lives and God's definition may be polar opposites. Our humanity makes it difficult for us to see beyond our earthly life span. Our human spirit will define success based on our human desires and temptations. But to God, success is making the decision to accept His gift of perfect love, which is the sacrifice of His son Christ Jesus. It is there for the asking and overflows for all of eternity. Cars will rust, marriages will falter, mansions will eventually rot and return to dust, but God's love will never fade away.

To the contrary, as our life on earth begins to fade, and we are no longer blinded by our selfish human desires, the light of God's love will shine even brighter in our lives. Because it is then that many will realize that life on earth is but a twinkle of an eye. Eternal life with God is the greatest success we can attain. True fulfillment is not a new dress, or a new car, or a bigger house--they are only temporary distractions.

Just as I was about to write Mr. Osteen off as another prosperity preacher, he saved it. He finally mentioned that although you should always prepare for success, you won't always get it. He spoke of his father who prepared to leave the hospital and enjoy his human desires again, but died anyway--but was richer because he died in faith, not depression.

So I will give Joel the benefit of the doubt, for now. But I am troubled by his continued definition of success as material and financial gains.

Consider this from 1st John, 1:15-17:

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world,
the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world--the cravings
of sinful man, the lust of his eyes, and the boasting of what he has and
does--comes not from the father but from the world. The world and its desires
pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.


How does your pastor define success? How does Joel Osteen? Any other TV Evangelist you may watch? Does it conflict with scripture?

Does he/she confuse God ordained success with "the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes, or the boasting of what he has and does"?

In Luke 18:18-30, Jesus did not tell the rich ruler to follow Him and he'll become richer. You will also notice that Jesus didn't say "give me your money" and you will become richer. Jesus told him to sell everything he owned and give it to the poor and then he would have treasure in heaven.

6 comments:

Mike Duran said...

There's much pressure on Christian pastors, primarily in America, to define success in terms of numbers or affluence. Yet many, many faithful believers have died without ever receiving the promise (Hebrews 11:13). God help us to not be short-sighted and swap the heavenly country for the here-and-now.

donna fleisher said...

Even in this biz of writing "for Him." What is success?

Which comes first -- the words we write for God to "bless and use," or God using us by pouring His words out through us? Isn't it only when He works through us (and in us at the same time) that we will be able to find success as He views it?

It's so true, that God's view of things is almost always exactly and totally opposite from the way the world views things. Success included.

I like what Margaret Becker (singer/songwriter) says. "You better define what success is for you, cuz if you don't, someone certainly will."

Dayle James Arceneaux said...

We all want to be successful. There's nothing inherently wrong with that. I'm more concerned with the prosperity preachers who teach that God's plan for us = our humanistic desires.

But what's worse is they teach that if you're not a success as defined by the world, then there is something wrong with your relationship with God.

donna fleisher said...

Let 'em think what they want. In the end, the only relationship with God that matters is the one-on-one between Him and you, between Him and me. Besides, we can't take it with us, and if what we hold dear on this earth ends up stuck on earth when we fly away ... what good is it?

I do think most Christians lack that "eternal perspective." They'd gladly trade a few years of "success" here on earth for the bazillions we'll have in heaven. Just a bit short-sighted, in my opinion.

But what do I know. : )

Todd said...

I find that neither love nor success look like the picture that most people have in their mind's eye.

God does love me and is working to make me successful, but I have finally come to this conclusion:

God is more interested in my long term growth than my short term comfort.

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