Tuesday, September 02, 2014
I agree with Victoria Osteen!
Recently, Victoria Osteen, married to Rev. Joel Osteen, was ripped for making some comments that sound odd, and as she worded them, narcissistic:
"So, I want you to know this morning: Just do good for your own self. Do good because God wants you to be happy," she continued. "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?"
If you click on the paragraph above, you'll go to one article about it, and a video as well.
While it sounds terrible, part of what she says is correct. That is, the second part, about worship.
Our worship of Almighty God adds nothing to his greatness; God needs nothing from us, and while we speak of "pleasing God" and "making God happy," no less than Saint Thomas Aquinas pointed out, in his Summa Theologica that God is, by his nature, cannot change or be changed. When we speak of God having emotions, we are really describing his unchanging will regarding that which is good or evil, as in good making God "happy" and evil making him "angry."
So if worship does nothing for God, why do we worship?
We worship because it is right that we do so; we are creatures, and creatures need to recognize and adore their Creator. We might ask, why is it necessary to stand with good posture? Because to stand with poor posture -- pushing our bones and muscles out of proper shape and form -- distorts us, and might ultimately cripple us. Just as our body needs proper form in order to function well, so creatures need to be in their proper "alignment" vis-a-vis both God, and all other creation.
Or, to pick up on Ms. Osteen's reference to "happiness": to be in right relationship with God makes him "happy" only in a metaphorical sense, per Saint Thomas, but for us it actually does make us "happy" in the true sense. Recall the question from the old Baltimore Catechism:
Q: Why did God make me?
A: God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in the next.
So it is certainly true that God's aim for us may be expressed simply as, to make us happy--provided we understand "happiness" as being in right relationship with God, our world, and other people. Worship is essential to us being in right relationship with God and others.
That said, the other comment I can't really do much to salvage: "Just do good for your own self. Do good because God wants you to be happy."
Well, uh, yeah, sort of...but no.
That skips over some really important intermediate steps:
Do good to others because:
1) God commands it.
2) As stewards of creation, God has given us a share in governing creation, which means our choices make a real difference in this world. We help make this world more like heaven, or more like hell.
3) People all around us are hungry, suffering injustice, lacking essentials, in need of companionship, healing and strength -- and God sends you and me to care for them.
So...do good to others so that others may be blessed by God through you.
Do good to others so that when the Lord calls all before his throne, you are numbered among the "sheep" of whom he says, "whatsoever you did for the least of my brethren, that you did unto me"--rather than the horrifying alternative.
And theeeeen...it's true to say we "do good" so that we can "be happy" -- as in, happy in heaven, rather than roasting in hell.