If you get linked up to the right people, the higher they go, the higher you go.
--Joel Osteen, 6/08/08
In contrast, the Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians:
What anyone else dares to boast about—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast about. 22Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham's descendants? So am I. 23Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. 27I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn? 30If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. 31The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is to be praised forever, knows that I am not lying.
-- 2 Corinthians, NIV
It is clear that the Apostle Paul-- one of the most honored servants of Christ in all of Christendom-- went through some tough times. There's more than one passage in the Epistles where he points to his multitudinous sufferings.
Regardless of what you think of Joel Osteen, it is clear that he is suggesting a path for believers that is completely different from that suffered by Paul. That is, to say the least, problematic. Either:
- one has to come up with a theology that explains why Joel's Christian path is better or scripturally mandated for us today, OR
- one has to have second thoughts about relying on Joel as a teacher and expositor of the faith.
My sincere prayer is that no one would give up on trying out this thing called the Christian faith based on an assumption that Joel represents the highest standard for living out a biblically-based path. In contrast, Dietrich Bonhoeffer said,
When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.