Texas megachurch Pastor Joel Osteen preached to a crowd of tens of thousands in Washington, D.C. on April 29. According to The Christian Post, Osteen told attendees that “God is a positive God.”
Here’s my question – what Bible is Osteen reading? What verses does he think support that claim? God is many things, but “positive?” It seems a very strange word to describe the God who does not tolerate sin at all. He flooded the earth in Genesis 7, saving only Noah and his family. He sent plagues on the Egyptians, “smote” Uzzah for touching the ark of the covenant in 2 Samuel 6. And in case you want to say, that’s just the God of the Old Testament (a bogus argument because God is unchanging – Malachi 3:6) take a look at Ananias and Sapphira being struck dead for lying to the Holy Spirit in Acts 5.
That isn’t to say God doesn’t show mercy, grace or bless people when he wills. If you understand the full story of the scriptures his incredible love and grace are evident. We sinners deserve nothing but God’s wrath eternally. The good news is that Jesus Christ paid our penalty on the cross and if we repent of our sins and place our trust in what he has already accomplished we can be forgiven. That is tremendously “positive” news. But talking about sin and the cross isn’t something Osteen really likes to do. He prefers to keep things upbeat.
Back in January I read an autobiographical piece on Salon.com from a woman who “Fell in love with a megachurch.” Osteen’s megachurch to be exact. I found her account troubling as she explained that Osteen didn’t read much from the gospel and that what she liked about the church was that is “felt more motivational than religious.”
Even after multiple visits at Lakewood, she was able to dismiss the few “religious images” and “Jesus talk” she had heard. She wrote that she would “tweak [Osteen’s] words so they worked for me. He said things were in God’s hands; I heard it as fate’s hands. He said God would send luck my way; I told myself to make my own luck.”
That’s exactly the problem. It isn’t the gospel and because it isn’t, it cannot save souls. That’s the heartbreaking part about it.
Osteen’s recent D.C. message also made it sound like every day of a Christian’s life is going to be sunshine and roses. That’s a false promise too. “At the end of the event, after Osteen gave a message about God’s positive destiny for everyone’s life, he prayed with those who wanted to dedicate their lives to Jesus and told them to pray that they repent of their sins,” The Christian Post reported.