I have seen Joel Osteen’s personal growth books on the secular shelves of bookstores but I’ve never read his work. I’ve never heard him preach. I’m not going to comment on his theology or sincerity because I’m not familiar with his stance or perspective. He declares, I think, that Jesus is LORD and scripture tells us we can’t claim that without the Spirit of God dwelling within us. That being the case, Joel Osteen is my brother in Christ.
Yesterday I heard him in an interview with George Stroumboulopoulos, a CBC host of his own interview show… a young Canadian ‘Charlie Rose’ with a dash of David Letterman thrown in. I also surmise George is an atheist or Buddist from things I’ve heard him say.
What Joel’s particular Christian style or theology might be I don’t know. I gather he isn’t popular with some other high profile pastors or Christian leaders, though I only know that from reference within the interview I heard yesterday.
What I notice about Joel Osteen, based on one interview I saw last night, is that he doesn’t put up barriers between Believers or across the line between Believers and unbelievers. As I don’t think Jesus did either, in that regard, I believe I observed Joel represent Christ well. It is love for one another and compassion for fellow men that Jesus — and Paul — urged, in spite of much opposition.
If Joel Osteen’s ministry is as controversial as suggested last night by George Stromboulopoulos, then I may be ‘tarred and feathered’ for saying that I saw him emulate the heart of Jesus’ message. But in truth, I think we need to get back to Jesus and the Gospel, rather than a brand of Christianity that is expected to be, by outsiders or unbelievers as cold, hard and Pharisaic.
Jesus took most exception to the Pharisees who claimed to know God’s law and to follow it. But they didn’t know God’s heart or recognize His love and so they failed the people miserably. I think the body of Christ, throughout the ages, has erred in the same way. And I think, from what I heard and saw of Joel Osteen last night, he’s attempting to address the balance – not by preaching but by demonstrating grace.
I hope we will all grow in grace as we love and serve our LORD. I’ve a long way to go, but I aim high and am very grateful to the God who teaches and encourages me to love and to receive the love offered to me with grace and gratitude.