One of the most disgusting displays of pompous self-congratulation ever seen, was during a T.V. sermon a while back, by Joel Osteen. I was a believer at that time, but my reaction to that particular program really hit me in the gut.
The sermons' topic was receiving Favor from God, and the only way to receive " Favor " was to have unshakable FAITH, and the deepest sincere LOVE for the Lord, placing him above anyone and everyone you have ever loved.
Mr. Osteen had been on a Church related trip, prior to this sermon. He started off by telling everyone how even though he had had a coach ticket, he'd been unexpectedly bumped up to First Class, and this was indeed God's Favor to him! The audience cheered and clapped like they had all just received a check for a million dollars.
He proceeded to give about 4 or 5 examples of things that went well for him in the days leading up to the trip. All, of course, happened because of God's Favor toward him.
I soon started to notice something.......With each subsequent " Favor ", the audience became less and less enthusiastic.
Could it be, that amongst the many thousands and thousands of people there, that several were dying of cancer, and other life-threatening diseases ? How many had friends or relatives dying of an incurable illness right at that time ? How many were being beaten by a spouse, or in the process of losing their home to foreclosure, or had lost their job ? How many were wondering how they could afford to feed their families ? ( as they tithed generously ).
How many children in the audience never see their dead-beat father ( or mother ) because that parent cruelly chooses not to be a parent ?
All of these people KNEW that they had prayed sincerely, and had prayed fervently to God for help, over and over again.
I wondered how many left that night with a feeling that something was wrong, very wrong.
BUT HEY ! ! ! .........NO MATTER ! ! ! ....the important thing is that Joel Osteen received FAVOR, because sitting in First Class and drinking Champagne and munching on Filet Mignon certainly trumps the trivial problems of the praying masses .....right ? ?