Over the past few days, Victoria Osteen’s sermonette has been dancing around in my head. I went to bed thinking about the many ways that humans have tried to mold and shape Jesus into the perfectly coiffed, demure, solemn faced pushover portrayed in the 16×20 frames in the Christian bookstore. Different religions have rendered him powerless; nothing more than a figurehead. Gay Christianity and other religious cults have edited and maligned His words to normalize sin and legitimize their disregard of scriptural truths. Common to many people groups is the belief that God just wants us to be happy. Instead of a daily dose of God’s word and the TRUTH that would set them free, they book a reservation on the crazy train and continue down the wide, easy path denoted by Matthew 7:13. It is a path far from Jesus and a road that leads to destruction.
I was one of those Christians, angry at God for the direction my life was headed. I was in debt, angry with my boss, unsuccessful in ministry and just downright unhappy. One day I had a meltdown with God on Interstate 4 in Orlando.
“Why are you against me? Why is this stuff happening to me? Why do you hate me so much? Why is my life in turmoil right now? I am doing all the right things. Why is everything so hard right now? GOD! Throw me a bone!”
God’s response was very simple and very clear. “Why would I spare you trials in this life? I didn’t spare my own son.” There was a pause in my prayer, the tears began to flow and my heart changed.
It was a tough pill to swallow. After all, “Didn’t God want me to be happy?” His response went head to head with the pity party I was throwing for myself. A few minutes later, the Holy Spirit calmed me down and God did some corrective surgery on my twisted beliefs. I had been one of those people who mistakenly believed that after I became a Christian, God’s main priority was to give me a happy, worry free life. In that tear filled, angst ridden car ride, I realized that God wasn’t mad at me and he wasn’t rebuking me. He was realigning the thoughts and beliefs that didn’t line up with scripture. God was teaching me mercy and grace; a much different lesson than what I had bought into.
What stuck in my craw about Mrs. Osteen’s speech was that the concept that God just wants us to be happy. Jesus’ experience in the Garden of Gethsemane contradicts her sentiment. Matthew 26:36 “Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, ‘Sit here while I go and pray over there.’ 37 And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. 38 Then He said to them, ‘My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.’ 39 He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, ‘O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.’ “
“My soul is exceedingly sorrowful”. Nothing about Jesus’ journey from Gethsemane to Golgotha could ever be described as ‘happy’. It was a predetermined, purpose driven, God ordained journey into hell. For anyone not familiar with the life of Jesus, God called Him to die as a sacrifice for the sins of the world.
Jesus(Innocent man)+ Alone + Crucifixion + Gruesome death = Redemption of Man
Happiness was never a factor in the equation. God was more concerned with Jesus’ obedience. If God’s main concern was our happiness, then Jesus would have been spared the torment of the cross. The preservation of His happiness would have left you and I at the mercy of our sins.
In my life, what made me happy for so many years was living a gay life. Living a gay life is contradictory to a life surrendered to the principles of scripture. So often people share the smarmy platitude, “Follow your heart.” Jesus has this to say of the human heart. “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man,” Mark 7:21-23.
God paints the masterpiece of our lives in hues of discomfort, pain and trials. Just ask Moses, Jonah and David. The things that made them happy often led them away from God’s plan for their lives. How in the world could that ever make God happy? How in the world could shifting the focus off God and onto ourselves be pleasing to God? I am reminded of Jesus’s words. “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him,” John 14:23. Keeping God’s word is what makes God happy. Jesus also reminds us, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.’ “
Getting what makes us happy emotionally is often contrary to what is best for us spiritually. When I worship God, when I thank Jesus for dying for my sins and even when I obey God’s word, I am doing not doing it for myself. I am doing it all to bring glory and honor to God. If I call myself a Christian, I must live as Jesus Christ does. Jesus said, “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me,” John 6:38.