Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Your Best Life Now by Joel Osteen (What is That?)

This book was released over eleven years ago. It is a popular and well-known book. This is a basically a book that exhorts readers how to work toward their best lives now according to this author. This book even made the New York bestseller list and topped that list, unusual for books in the Christian genre. As this book is a motivational "how to" book, the author arranges it by topic. He starts out with self-image issues and nearer the end of his book, he zeroes in on our relationships with others, exhorting the reader in how to treat others to "have your best life ow." He uses examples from his own life and from the lives of his family of origin. Joel Osteen is the well-known, Senior Pastor of Lakewood Church, a mega-church with thousands who attend weekly, according to his bio on the book. His televised messages, broadcast nationally and internationally, reach many millions more. His mega-church is estimated to be the largest one in America.

This book was what I expected, as judging from the title. Many years ago, one of my cousins had given my family a free copy of this book, as a favor. I had never read the book then, nor had any of my family members. This book, over 300 pages long, did not hold my interest. I felt that it was more of a large motivational volume with God added on to it all. Seldom is the Name of Jesus mentioned, except in a brief Gospel invitation at the end of the book. Throughout the book, I felt preached at. How does he diagnose the root of humanity's social ills? We have low self-esteem and think negatively, we are told. We are to pull ourselves up y our bootstraps, suck it up, think positive, and overcome our obstacles so we can achieve "our best life now." To this author, this meas the quality of our lives in this world. It means health, success and wealth i a worldly sense. I found myself getting more and more irritated with this book, especially with the topic of giving and tithing. That's because I'm aware that this author preaches principles that he obviously does not put into practice in his own life, as he enjoys an extravagant lifestyle and pastors the biggest mega-church in America. In much of the book, I sensed a self-congratulatory tone. This may be just me. The author says many of the right things, giving us plenty of truth in laying out the principles of positive thinking, self-discipline, caring for people, submitting to God's will, and giving. His error lies in that he leaves the cross of Christ out of his writing and misleads readers into believing that obedience to God brings us health, success, and wealth in the worldly sense--now. He totally omits any mention of sin, God's holiness, God's judgment, and Hell. Could it be that he knows that mention of these "hard sayings" of God would have sold far fewer copies of this book? I have never been a follower of Joel Osteen, but I know that many people in my social networks are. I'm sure that people in my family and in my local church follow this man. I know that Joel Osteen is very popular and has been featured on Larry King Live. As for writing, I though that he could have written the book in far fewer words. He seems to repeat himself. I know that some say that repetition is the stuff of good teaching, but I think that this refers more to oral teaching and not to written material that we can refer to over and over. In the Bible, obedience to God is linked to our well-being, but its promises to obedient Christians lie more in heavenly riches and rewards, as well as the promise that God will never leave us in this life in spite of how bad life may be. I don't think this book has anything to say to many, many people, including the elderly, the poor, the downtrodden, and countless oppressed peoples all over the world who would be turned off by this book's very tone.

I recommend that every Pastor, who cares about his flock, read this book as well as do research into Joel Osteen. This is a must because it is my guess that in every congregation, church members are following this man. I would not be surprised that some in church leadership follow this man, also. Joel Osteen may seem like a harmless motivational speaker who wants to show people how to "live their best life now." Pastors, check all this author says and compare it to Scripture, especially to what Jesus and the Apostles teach. Do they teach that we can have "our best life now" in this author's sense? Reader, if you follow Joel Osteen (which many people do), please search your Bible to see if Jesus and the Apostles teach that we ca expect physical health, financial wealth, and success in a worldly sense--now.

Let me share this call to action that puts all this in perspective.

While many of us in the West are dreaming about "our best life now," many around the world are dying of both physical and spiritual hunger. Instead of contributing to the success of this wealthy mega-church Pastor, consider sharing Bibles with those who would treasure one copy of their own. You can visit here. Thank you.

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