Two very different people who call themselves Christians have gotten a lot of media time recently.
One is Victoria Osteen, wife of Joel, who recently told her audience, "when we obey God, we're not doing it for God...we're doing it for ourselves. Do good for your own self. Do it because God wants you to be happy. When you come to church, when you worship Him, you're not doing it for God, really--you're doing it for yourself, because that's what makes God happy."
And then there's Rick Sacra.
I've known Rick and Debbie Sacra since the 80's, while I was growing up on the ELWA compound in Liberia. Debbie Sacra was my sixth grade English and History teacher.
They've been committed to Liberia ever since then, even through 15 years of devastating civil war and the war-torn country that limped back to life afterwards.
Dr. Sacra had planned to return to Liberia at the end of August. When he found out that Dr. Brantly had contracted Ebola, he did not cancel his trip.
He did not even postpone his trip.
He actually moved up his departure date to get to Liberia sooner.
He knowingly and consciously made the decision to walk into a situation where well over 50% of people are dying from a horrible virus.
So Victoria Osteen, what do you have to say about that?
That Dr. Sacra is obeying God for himself? That contracting a deadly disease and possibly leaving his wife a widow and his children fatherless would make him happy? That he literally and completely chose to lay down his very life....for himself???
As Bill Cosby says, That's the dumbest thing I ever heard in my life! Totally agree.
Of course, when you go home to a 10 million dollar mansion, instead of a war-torn, poverty stricken country with a deadly epidemic raging through it, it's difficult to understand what "obedience" she is even talking about.
The experts say that this epidemic is getting worse, not better, and that over 20,000 people will probably be infected before it's over. All of Africa is on high alert. ReachGlobal's All-Africa conference in Tanzania was recently cancelled--even though there's no Ebola here.....yet. This is serious stuff, folks.
And we are forced to ask ourselves The Question. What do we do if it comes here?
I don't know the answer to that question. But I do know that I want to follow Rick Sacra's example, not Victoria Osteen's. God has called me to deny myself, pick up my cross, and follow Him.
Deny myself. Not "do it for myself."
Does God want me to be happy? He wants me to be holy. And He knows, and has taught me, that happiness is found at the very moment when I put myself aside, and fix my eyes on Him.
Unfortunately, the Osteen's toxic brand of "Christianity" has been exported to Africa, where it is found everywhere.
We need a whole lot less of them out here, and a whole lot more Rick Sacras.