My fellow residents of the Nashville area have probably seen the billboards around town. If not, maybe you have noticed the Facebook ads, or caught the recent Tennessean article. All of these are advertising “A Night of Hope.” The speaker for this event is Joel Osteen.
Joel Osteen is a well-known “preacher.” He has a best selling book and is the “pastor” at one of the largest churches in America. Joel Osteen is a Word of Faith preacher, or commonly called a “Health and Wealth” preacher. His sermons combine pop psychology with a sprinkling of Scripture. The message is positive claiming that God desires for Christians to be wealthy and healthy and the key to unlocking these blessings from God is to empower your faith.
I could write a whole series about the problems with the word of faith movement (and I think I will at some point), but I want to focus on the idea of hope in this post. Joel Osteen is supposed to have an evening of hope. Hope is something people are looking for in all times, but more so during tough times. I have no doubt Joel will have a large group buying tickets for this event.
I am saddened though because if the event is anything like the other material I’ve heard and read from Joel, what is being offered is false hope. False hope to people struggling with money, that if they would use their faith (as if faith is some magical force) that God would make them rich. False hope that they could be healed if they just read the right verses and declared God’s promises for them. Preying on individuals during tough times, or anytime, is despicable. The truth of the matter is Christians get sick and die. Christians lose their jobs. Putting hope in these things is false hope.
The true hope that all Christians have, and all people need is the hope offered in the gospel. The hope that our sins are forgiven and that we have peace with God and joy no matter our circumstances. This hope allow us to endure anything this life has to offer. It is the hope, that Paul states in Philippians, allow us to be joyful both when he have more than enough, and when we have less than is needed. It is the hope that even if we die of sickness that God will raise us from the dead to a land without sickness. It is the hope that there is a better life awaiting us all.
True hope is in the gospel of Jesus Christ. That God became flesh, lived a perfect life, died, was buried, and was raised on our behalf. Don’t buy this false hope.