A Widow, Osteen, and Piper: The Gospel in Focus

telescope-sam-1This morning I shared a cup of tea with an elderly widow from my church.  Later, I caught a few minutes of a Victoria Osteen sermon.  This evening I happened upon a two-minute John Piper video.

The widow told me how she found comfort and purpose in knowing Jesus when her husband suddenly passed away ten years ago.

Victoria Osteen told me that I will find comfort and purpose when I think positive thoughts, say good things, replace what doesn’t work in life with what does work (huh?), be determined in all I do, believe that my miracle is right around the corner, and focus on realizing my hopes and dreams—getting the best in life for me. . . me . . . me.

John Piper told me that “God is most glorified in me when I am most satisfied in Him—in the midst of loss, not prosperity.”

The widow and John Piper pointed me to Christ and his glorious Gospel.  Victoria Osteen didn’t.

The widow’s singular, trusting love for her Savior and Piper’s articulate, passionate cry against the false prosperity “gospel” of our day could not have more dramatically highlighted how irrelevant, corrupt, and dangerous Osteen’s message is.  It is irrelevant in that her message has nothing to do with biblical spirituality, corrupt in that it is a complete distortion of the Gospel, and dangerous in that it propogates a self-absorbtion that leads many down the broad road to destruction.

I began my day gleaning from the beautiful and simple life-long faith of a woman who has known the Lord for over seventy years.  Her life has been marked by both suffering and blessing.  She has learned the secret of being content in plenty or in want: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”  She told me that Jesus is her everything.  She has walked the road of loss and found Him to be her All.

On the other hand, after listening to Osteen, apparently getting the good life is everything.  The focus of her gospel is not Jesus, but rather on self and what one hopes to attain by mixing a bit of “faith” with good ol’ gumption—favorable feelings, possessions, and circumstances.  Where is the Christ to be adored?  Where is the Christ to be served?  Where is the Christ to be worshiped?

Here is the short Piper video I came across this evening.  I won’t try to restate what he communicates so well, but what I will say is this:  Tonight I give thanks for the faithful example of a widow and the poignant words of a preacher that have put the Gospel in proper focus—on Christ—and have spurred me on to love and adore Him all the more.   And tonight, as I lay my head down, I will be asking these questions:  Whom do I love above all else?  Who is the center of my world?  Who is the focus of my faith?  Whom have I in heaven but You?  And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.  My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:25-26)

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