A recently recorded video is circulating online of Victoria Osteen, wife of megachurch speaker and author Joel Osteen, calling on congregants at Lakewood Church to “do good for your own self” because obedience, the church and worship are not for God as much as for self-happiness.
“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,” she declares in the undated 36-second clip with her husband standing by her side and nodding. “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,” Osteen continues. “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?”
Osteen is the author of the book Love Your Life, and is “co-pastor” of Lakewood in Houston, Texas. Her husband Joel is known for his motivational speeches and his books Your Best Life Now and It’s Your Time.
Steve Camp, pastor of The Cross Church in Palm City, Florida and former singer/songwriter, told Christian News Network that he viewed the video on Wednesday, and while saddened, he was not surprised at her remarks. He stated that Osteen’s statements were humanistic in nature and antithetical to Scripture.
“It’s the age old sin of idolatry—that it’s not about God, it’s about us,” he explained. “True worship for the humanist is about how we feel at the end of the day and what gives us meaning, as opposed to what gives God glory.”
“When we come to see men happy rather than God glorified, it’s not worship, it’s idolatry,” Camp stated, reading from Psalm 115:1, which states, “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake.”
He said that Osteen’s words were essentially blasphemous because they disregard God’s holiness and the way that He is to be worshiped.
“She honestly believes that God exists to make us happy rather than holy,” Camp lamented. “She honestly believes that worship is about our fulfillment rather than His glory. That’s the bottom issue here.”
But he outlined that Scripture commands man to be selflessly abandon themselves to Christ and to not worry about their own lives.
“1 Corinthians so clearly says that whether we eat or drink, do it all to the glory of God. It’s not just self,” Camp stated. “Jesus said … in Matthew 16, ‘Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Me.'”
He also pointed to Acts 20:24, which reads, “[N]either count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.”
“The Osteens have just inverted that. They think it’s not the denial of self, but the exaltation of self,” Camp lamented. “They’re not trying to pursue a cross; they’re trying to pursue prosperity. And they’re certainly not following the biblical Jesus; they’re following whatever brings happiness and contentment.”
When asked about the dangers of “me-centered” church, Camp outlined numerous concerns. He explained that besides such congregations not being a real church to begin with, “me-centered” churches are based on pragmatism over Scripture, the pleasure of men over the glory of God, and are more concerned with being liked than being truthful.
In doing so, such assemblies thrust the Lord of the Church outside of the Church as in Laodicea, as Christ declared, “[T]hou sayest, ‘I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing,’ and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.”
“The gospel is always counter-cultural. It always runs against that with which man wants to be satisfied and pleased with,” Camp explained. “The me-centered church is about what’s temporal rather than eternal. … The end of worship in a me-centered church has to be money, has to be fame, has to be the pragmatics of temporal culture. Therefore, it won’t do anything to offend a culture.”
“What’s the chief end of man? To bring glory to God and enjoy him forever,” he stated, quoting from Thomas Watson. “I think that’s the thing that’s been lost in our culture.”
Camp, who has spoken with Joel Osteen in the past, and has urged him to speak boldly about Christ instead of worrying about public opinion, said that if he were to encourage Victoria—whom he noted should not be serving as “co-pastor” in the first place—he would call upon her to repent.
“Repent of this self-oriented, feel good gospel you’ve embraced, and don’t let your life be of any value to you or precious to yourself,” he said. “The chief concern in this life is not us. The chief concern is that we bring glory to God, that we further His gospel, and that we testify of His grace. We’re here to do his bidding.”