Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A City Of Light

I sometimes hear critical voices in regards to Joel Osteen and his mega church. I love Joel Osteen, his message, the worship, everything about it. He’s preaching the GOOD news! The gospel is the GOOD news. Not the sour news. Not the condemning news. It’s the good news about being delivered from sin, condemnation, depression, oppression. Whatever is trying to bring us down in this World. We need to hear who we are and what we are in Jesus Christ. We already know about our faults and short comings. We need to hear what Jesus wants to do through us and in us.

Here is what you have to understand. The world is watching. Take my home country Sweden for example. When the average Swede thinks about church, he thinks about a very quiet, very traditional, kind of dead and boring church. Old hymns, old fashioned style of music and a very small congregation of mostly elderly people. That’s what he has experienced in the Lutheran church, maybe at Christmas or at somebody’s funeral. When he sees or hears about a church like the one in Lakewood he is blown away. It’s mind boggling to him or her that something like that would even exist.
And in Sweden still, like in most countries in Europe, we don't have any Christian radio or TV on our national channels. Because of cable and satellite Christians can now choose to see Christian programming. But it doesn't reach non-Christians. Here in America people are so spoiled with the easy access to the Word of God in the media and it saddens me sometimes when it's taken for granted.

I belonged to a very charismatic, full of life, non denominational church when I lived in Sweden. But most people consider the so called free churches to be way over the top and not the norm.
As an example, I had some non- Christian friends over from Sweden and I wanted to take them to Joyce Meyers conference when she was here in Phoenix visiting. I tried to tell them that we have to leave early because there’s going to be a big crowd. They would joke about it saying –“are we going to sing some hymns” etc. Even though they know that I have never belonged to a church like that, that was still the picture they had in their minds. When we got there and could hardly find seats they couldn’t believe that so many people wanted to hear this woman.

Or take Benny Hinn for example. There’s a lot of controversy around him here in America. But take a country like Albania for example. They were proclaimed the “first atheist state” by their leader Hoxha and they lived under oppression and dictator ship for over 40 years. When they were liberated in the early 90’s and a lot of people got saved, some of which came to my church in Sweden, they took the message of healing and went to the hospitals and got most of the patients healed. Here is what I know, they LOVED Benny Hinn and loved to watch his healing services on TV. They were not just watching with a critical mind, they believed and went out and did what they saw him do.

So I believe that a church like Lakewood has a mission in the world and to the world to be a city of light up on a hill as the Bible says. To make people understand that Christianity is not a small, obscure little movement, but huge and in the center of what’s going on in this World. That we are a strong power to be counting on.  Not passive, but on the offence.
Especially in times like these when Islam is aggressively on the move. We have spiritual weapons and we need to use them against the enemy. Not against each other or other ministries because they look a little different. I believe that every church has a calling to preach all of God’s word but I also believe that churches as well as people have specific callings. Joel Osteen preaches a message of hope, something this world desperately needs. When I came to Jesus, I didn’t come because he was condemning me. No, through His grace He delivered me! The Bible says that His grace leads us to repentance. This was me when I came to the Lord:

“Fear not, for you will not be ashamed;
    be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced;
for you will forget the shame of your youth,
    and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more.For your Maker is your husband,
    the Lord of hosts is his name;and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer,
    the God of the whole earth he is called.For the Lord has called you
    like a wife deserted and grieved in spirit,
like a wife of youth when she is cast off,
    says your God.For a brief moment I deserted you,
    but with great compassion I will gather you.In overflowing anger for a moment
    I hid my face from you,but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,”
    says the Lord
, your Redeemer”. Isaiah 54:4-8

Let us enjoy all the different gifts in the body of Christ and let God speak to us through whoever he chooses!