Sunday, October 14, 2007

Sinfulness of Sin, Joel Osteen & Ambassadorship

In my studies, I've been very blessed to have spent a considerable amount of time basking in and meditating on the lavishness of God's Grace and Redemption in my life and the lives of those around me. This has been tremendously freeing, yet I have felt some of the imbalance, and now God has reminded me, through His Word and the examples from my own life of how absolutely important it is to remember the sinfulness of sin along with God's super-abounding Grace.

Hosea 11:12 Ephraim surrounds Me with lies
And the house of Israel with deceit;
Judah is also unruly against God,
Even against the Holy One who is faithful.

Isaiah 1:2 Hear, O heavens! Listen, O earth!
For the LORD has spoken:
"I reared children and brought them up,
but they have rebelled against me.

Isaiah 30:1 "Woe to the obstinate children,"
declares the LORD,
"to those who carry out plans that are not mine,
forming an alliance, but not by my Spirit,
heaping sin upon sin;

2 who go down to Egypt
without consulting me;
who look for help to Pharaoh's protection,
to Egypt's shade for refuge.
3 But Pharaoh's protection will be to your shame,
Egypt's shade will bring you disgrace.

Romans 8:6-7 "The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7 the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so.

This week has been a very strange lesson for me on the sinfulness of sin in my life shown to me both through scripture and through a serious conflict at work. Overt sin in the form of rebellion and hostility have probably been the biggest themes. For one thing, it is way, way too easy to forget our sin nature and the rebelliousness/hostility that we show God every day as a result of not believing rightly about who God is and His holy and loving nature. This week, I found myself particularly weak in the spiritual disciplines and it had a damaging effect on at least one relationship with a guy who works for me.

I have been his biggest advocate for more than two years now. I convinced the powers that be to promote him, to re-sign him to a huge chunkin' bonus, and I have gone to bat for him on charges that could have been very serious for him. And I have reasoned with him about the performance issues that were lingering that I had to intercede for him on. AND yet, his level of disrepect and open hostility toward me has become unimaginable. He has given me no choice but to enact strict disciplinary measures. Through all of this, I have said several times, I could never, ever be God. He is way, way, way more longsuffering and patient that I could ever even attempt to be. And I say this mostly because of the sadness, disappointment and betrayal that I feel. Not only because of just how poorly he has been performing or simply because he was being so rebellious, hostile, and insubordinate (which really is quite a bit in the org where I work). But my sadness/disappointment/feelings of betrayal stem primarily from knowing that I've poured myself out for him and encouraged him and given him professional, respectful guidance over the past two years. Yet to have him act as if I was some stranger. No. Not a stranger, because I don't know anyone who would be so utterly beligerent and hostile to a stranger. He treated me like a mortal enemy. And I just can't get that.

So, here's the thing. No matter how much this hurts/ bewilders me, it is no where near as aweful as my sin and how I have treated God. And I have been no where near as good as God is to me in trying to love, serve, advocate, reconcile with this young man. How does this show the sinfulness of sin? This personalizes it. Sin is against God. period. The Holy One. Who loves us with an everlasting love and whose love endures forever. Against Christ, our advocate, our propitiation, who sits at the right hand of the Father, making intercession for us, WHILE we rebel against him, discrespt His authority, show open hostility toward His loving advances. It just made me cry and cry because I know that my sin and rebellion this past week must shred God's heart too - but more.

All of this being said, tonight I found an interesting article by Michael Horton at the Whitehorse Inn about Joel Osteen's message. Apparently, the two were featured on 60 Minutes tonight, but I missed the debate.

Here is an excerpt from on of the articles Dr. Horton wrote called Joel Osteen: Whatever Happened to Sin?
If Osteen were a herald, ambassador, and messenger of the gospel, he would humbly yet confidently proclaim the message that we have been given, rather than deciding for himself what kind of ministry for which he wants to be remembered. An ambassador is sent with the word of his superior. However, Osteen sees himself "more as a coach, as a motivator to help [people] experience the life God has for us." Not only does Osteen's commitment to his own message and ministry fail to serve the interests of God's kingdom; they fall far short of truly serving his hearers. If he loves the people to whom he speaks, he will give them the truth about their situation before God and the good news of God's grace in Christ.

Of course, it is a lot easier to say, "...I don't have it in my heart to condemn people," when you are asked if Jesus is the only way of salvation. It makes us look good. We can be the "nice guy" in a culture that prizes being nice. But being nice isn't always loving. A doctor who can't bring himself or herself to inform you of your cancer in time to receive a possible cure is actually selfish. We trust such informed people to tell us the truth regardless of the personal anxiety or unpleasantness of the news.

Hmmmm. a lot to digest... Maybe I'm just being a little too much like Osteen and need to bring the "bad news" into my scenario mentioned above. Conviction is definitely warranted. I will pray for the Holy Spirit to be working on him too!! Anyway, food for thought.

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