Jesus-sized entitlement

Jared over at the gospel-driven church has a great post about the current Osteen fracas:

Just in case you missed the news, Victoria Osteen, wife of Lakewood Church pastor Joel Osteen, has been taken to court by a flight attendant who claims Mrs. Osteen assaulted her during a dispute over a dirty airplane seat. For what it's worth, I think that even if the defendant did and said what the plaintiff is accusing her of, the requested damages are ridiculous. (10% of her net worth? For some harsh words and an elbow to the boobie? Come on.) And I have no idea if she's guilty or innocent -- let's presume innocence, like we're supposed to -- but the prosecutor is illuminating some things that are far more interesting to me than the accusations. Some samples:
Victoria Osteen said when she first told a flight attendant about the spill, she was handed some napkins. She said she responded, "'It's not my job.' I didn't say it in an ugly tone of voice."
Catch that? Given the opportunity to clean the mess, Victoria Osteen's response was "It's not my job." It doesn't matter if she said it sweetly or not; it doesn't even matter that she was technically right. If you're a follower of Jesus, wiping up people's crap is your job. And c'mon, we're talking about a spill here. A normal person would have just wiped it up with the napkins handed to them. But the Osteens do not believe they are normal people. They believe they are special, and peddling the glory of our own specialness is of course how they've come to afford first class tickets in the first place.
Reginald McKamie, Brown's attorney, asked Joel Osteen why he said in one of his religious messages that if it wasn't for him, his wife would be in prison.

Osteen said he meant it to be a comical statement about the differences between him and his wife, that he likes routine and considers himself boring while his wife is outgoing and likes to go to new restaurants and new places.

"You don't go to jail because you like different restaurants, do you?" McKamie asked, as the packed courtroom laughed.

"No sir," Joel Osteen said.
I don't have a point in sharing that excerpt. I just think it's hilarious. Here's another important one, though
McKamie also asked Osteen whether his family was used to getting special treatment, making reference to an anecdote in one of the pastor's books in which he wrote about being allowed to take an expensive television camera onboard a flight to India even though it was against the rules.

"You feel that you're entitled to the favor of God ... to do things other people can't do," McKamie said.

"All of God's children are," Osteen said.
And that's the money quote. That's how Osteen and his variety of prosperity gospelism position Christian identity -- to be better, higher, more favored by the world than anybody else. It is a position of entitlement. And it is the antithesis of grace. Because they believe they deserve special treatment. The camera incident cited there comes from an anecdote in Your Best Life Now, where Osteen describes being told by a clerk that he would have to check a camera with luggage, that it couldn't be carried on. He basically argued with her, got nowhere, and then the pilot, who overheard, tried to placate Osteen by offering to stow it in the cockpit. Osteen writes (p.36):
The woman behind the counter glared at me and shook her head, clearly aggravated. I just smiled and said, "Sorry, ma'am; it's the favor of God."
No sir. It's being an ass. And I imagine after that incident, that clerk didn't come away thinking, "Wow, God is awesome to favor a believer that way." She was likely thinking, "Wow, what a jerk your followers are, God." Osteen and his devotees believe they know their place. As children of God, they are entitled to money, health, good jobs, special treatment. They know nothing of the cross. And it makes me wonder if they've actually read any Jesus in the Gospels. We are not entitled to anything. We have graciously been made co-heirs with Jesus, and our response, out of gratitude and joy and love for God, should be humility and servanthood and sacrifice. Certainly we can wipe up a spill every now and then. As lovers of God and neighbor, it is our job.

No comments:

Post a Comment