Summary: Thousands of books have been written in response to that age old question; what's the meaning of life?' Nearly all of them are wrong but there is an ancient book, written by the inspiration of God that tells us the answer to that most perplexing question!
Today we are going to talk about a question that has perplexed even the most intelligent people on earth for thousands of years. It's a question that has been widely debated by scholars and philosophers and yet simply ignored or even scoffed at by scientists and atheists. That question is "what is the meaning of life?" What is the true reason for our existence? As a race and, more specifically as individuals? Why are we here?
Now, the Christian community is pretty much in agreement that we were created by God and that God indeed has a specific purpose for our lives. But what that purpose is, seems to be quite debatable-even among those claiming to be born again Christians. And that difference of opinion is often times made quite clear through the music, prayers and sermons of our worship services.
If you're like me, you've noticed that many worship services today seem to be more about entertainment and self-help rather than reverent, Christ-centered worship? The objective seems to be to get people so pumped up and excited about themselves, that they can't wait to come back the following week for another uplifting emotional experience.
In August of last year, Victoria Osteen, wife of mega-church minister Joel Osteen and co-pastor of their gigantic Church in Houston, Texas, made some remarks during a Sunday morning service that, to me, clearly gives us insight into what really motivates a lot of people to worship and even what they believe our entire purpose in life is.
Addressing a huge congregation, with her husband standing by nodding his head in agreement, she said, “"I just want to encourage everyone of us to realize when we obey God, we're not doing it for God – I mean, that's one way to look at it – we're doing it for ourselves, because God takes pleasure when we're happy.
So I want you to know this morning: Just do good for your own self. Do good because God wants you to be happy. 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?"
Joel and his wife pastor the largest Christian church in the country as far as average weekly attendance is concerned. They usually have around 43,500 every Sunday.. To me, that's amazing. But what's sad is that when she said what she did, tens of thousands of people enthusiastically shouted "Amen"!
Now let me just say, I'm not here this morning to single out and condemn a person or even a particular church. But the Lord has impressed me to clearly identify and unmistakably condemn a widely accepted but deadly teaching that is sweeping through mainstream Christianity like wildfire, and is endangering the souls of countless people as it rages.
Many of you know that Joel and his wife are prosperity preachers. They basically teach that if we worship God and live a certain way, God will reward us with good health, wealth and prosperity. (Scripture certainly doesn't teach this by the way…)
We can usually identify a prosperity preacher pretty quickly, but blatant prosperity preachers are not the only ones advocating the dangerous false teaching that is creeping into the church. It comes in more subtle forms from pulpits you would never expect to hear prosperity preaching.
Keep in mind that this false teaching is built around a principle rather than a strictly dogmatic doctrine and I believe that principle was clearly illustrated by the words of Miss Osteen. If you noticed, she deliberately took the focus OFF of God and onto OURSELVES. You heard her say, "..just do good for your own self; " When you come to church, when you worship Him, you're not doing it for God really. You're doing it for yourself"
Now, please don't misunderstand me, I know that our worship of God is extremely beneficial to us; not only spiritually but also, emotionally and even physically.
That said, we must understand that our worship of God is NOT ABOUT US. Our primary motivation of worshiping God should NOT be what we can get out of it. You see, many churches today, whether they realize it or not, are promoting self-centered worship & living instead of practicing biblical self-sacrificing worship and life style. The message they are sending is that our worship, our good works, our entire lives should be driven by a desire to prosper, promote or otherwise benefit OURSELVES- and that God is happy to be merely a means to help us attain that end.
If our relationship with God is driven by this kind of selfish motivation, I dare to say that our worship and service to God is unacceptable to Him. In fact, we are essentially committing the original sin of self exaltation and even self worship.