The Bible says that the way is narrow and that few will find it. What does that mean, especially to a world where modern preaching tells us how easy it is to get to Heaven?
As I grew up, the desire to be more than a common human being who walks about the earth for a few years and then makes an exit increased within me. My desire was not to be famous and celebrated, but to be the best that I could be. My mantra was "What I am is God's gift to me; what I become is my gift to God." I wanted to conquer that elusive and incorrigible thing called "self". To me I had found that path less traveled that Frost wrote of. Despite the fact that most people seemed to have little regard for me, I felt like a giant.
God has been tweaking my paradigm of life as I move closer to my own exit from planet earth. I have learned that it's not all about me. God has a master plan for mankind and I have a part in it. My part is not to become proud of myself, but to reach a point where Jesus becomes my all in all. There's a song that says that Jesus is more than enough. I have a new destination for my life. I must decrease so that He can increase. The part about me is the refiner's fire that I need to go through to reach the place where God can use me.
Yesterday I wrote a blurb about Joel Osteen. If you missed it, you can read it here: http://www.examiner.com/article/joel-osteen-saint-or-false-prophet
Talk about a firestorm. The phrase "fools rush in where angels fear to tread" seemed appropriate for my choice of writing topics. I had to revisit the subject and offer some clarification.
I think Joel Osteen is where I was when I wore a younger man's clothes. Was I criticizing him for being in error? Not really. I'm just trying to point out what I consider a higher way and that perhaps Joel is leaving out an important part of the gospel (and he certainly is not the only one focusing on the more pleasant aspects of scripture). Joel talks about how God will help us get what we want. I'm trying to tell you that God is what we're supposed to want. He created me to require air to breathe, water and food to sustain the cells of my body, and a shelter from the elements of nature. Yachts, Beamers, fancy houses, gourmet food, country club memberships, etc. etc. etc. are all man's natural desires. And Jesus said that the natural man was at enmity with God. We have an expression: have things, but don't let things have you. I have used it. But as the years march onward, I keep loosening my grip on all the things around me; and I try to put myself into a position that if I lost everything I own (even my computer and Internet access) that I would still be thanking God and walking toward Him.
There is a lot of discrepancy between beliefs and practices in the world of Christianity. I've reached a conclusion that one cannot open their mouth (or their fingers in our cyber world) without earning the disdain of someone wearing the label "Christian". The post was not necessarily pro or anti Joel Osteen. I was criticized by people on both sides. Some thought I was too bland and tactful in condemning Osteen and others thought I was blasting the poor man. The point is he is not either a saint or a false prophet. He's just a man doing what he thinks is his best to follow God. And perhaps he's not quite on the right track. Some would argue he's on completely the wrong track and is misleading others down the primrose path to perdition.
Paul Washer is a passionate and devoted man of God. To say he is very outspoken would be an understatement. He certainly does not aspire to win the affections of man and thus does not temper his speech with political correctness or Dale Carnegie diplomacy. Check out some YouTube videos for more on Paul Washer and on Joel Osteen and their view of life and a walk with Jesus.
Here Paul Washer examines the concept of Self esteem
And Paul Washer expounds on the truth and Joel Osteen:
Wretched with Todd Frial contrasts the words of Paul Washer to Joel Osteen's https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OkoKvteblcI
For a change in pace, here's an interview Oprah conducted with Joel and Victoria Osteen. An article (or two) on Oprah will be forthcoming in the days ahead as well. She has become a person of great influence and her impact on the world of Christianity cannot be ignored.
The main thing to remember here is that we as followers of Jesus Christ are not supposed to "follow" other men. They may influence us, but we must not be of Paul (whether Paul of Tarsus or Paul Washer), or Timothy, or Peter, or James. We must be of Jesus. We are always going to have disagreements about the Bible and the path we should take. Can we not agree to disagree with love? Even false teachers think that they are speaking truth. If we're supposed to forgive murderers and rapists, then surely we must forgive someone who simply has wrong ideas and speaks about them. Even me.
We cannot ignore Galatians 5:22:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith. Joel Osteen certainly demonstrates those traits. I wish that more of those who speak out about people in the world of Christianity would do the same.