By: Liz Sparks
Earlier this week, I was watching a few YouTube clips and I stumbled upon a segment of a Joel Osteen message. His talk was filled with self-help, “Your Best Life Now” theology. Check out the video here:
In the book Art and Soul, authors Hilary Brand and Adrienne Chaplin explain how the apostle Paul exhorted believers to think about “whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable” (Philippians 4:8). They explained that while this is helpful, godly advice, “it has produced a kind of Christian cheeriness that is both bland and artificial. Christ did not sing ‘always look on the bright side of life’ as he hung on the cross.”
As I watched this video of Osteen’s misconstrued theology, I was frustrated by his “Christian cheeriness.” We cannot portray our faith as something that is always powerful, triumphant, or victorious in the world’s eyes. It is our responsibility to be authentic and truthful about what our faith brings. There are times when, just like other human beings, we get sick, we have financial trouble, and we are depressed. Sometimes our faith even brings about trouble, because of persecution from others and the standards to which we are called to hold. As we portray the gospel, we need to explain the whole of our faith, not just the “happy” parts.
 Brand, Hilary, and Adrienne Chaplin. Art and Soul: Signposts for Christians in the Arts. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001.