WARNING: This topic is a bit controversial. This post is simply my opinion. I welcome your comments, but I'm not trying to pick a fight!
The concept of Oprah as a spiritual leader first occurred to me when I heard her mentioned in a song called “What if His People Prayed” by Casting Crowns in the line: “Stop asking Oprah what to do.” That was a few years ago. I have to say that instead of viewers turning her off as the years passed, she has instead been growing in popularity. In fact, right now she is probably more noticeable than ever.
Oprah makes headlines every time she loses weight – or gains it. She has been in the news for her humanitarian trips to Africa. She built a school for girls after that, getting even more attention in the media when a scandal broke out later. Her name rose to the front page again as she began diligently supporting presidential candidate Barack Obama. And now, once again, everyone is talking about Oprah.
This time she is making headlines because of her “interactive class” on the internet. The teachings and apparently, Oprah’s own beliefs, are fueling a media frenzy among conservatives and Christians with the book “A New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle. I haven’t personally read it. The video clips, blog posts and book reviews about it imply to me that it could truly lead people to the wrong conclusions, and away from God. Again, I haven’t read it.
It is undisputed that Americans have a newfound fascination with spirituality, and a non-Christian leader with such prominence is obviously a danger to the lost. Oprah’s way, if it teaches what I think it does, will lead people astray, plain and simple.
Here’s the thing: the outcry from the Christian population is fueling it even more.
Christians have the reputation of being Bible-thumping, hellfire-and-brimstone types who are over the top in our beliefs. Needless to say, that is a turn-off to many who are spiritual seekers. Oprah’s newfound belief is a much nicer, easier, feel-good way to them. They read the book and watch her webcasts to see what’s causing such an uproar. We argue over belief systems, and that makes the seekers even more curious. Do you think they are running to the Bible for answers? I don’t. They're running to her and listeningto the hype. The more we fuss about Oprah, the more attractive her way becomes.
What I believe has actually happened here is simple. Oprah has found something that makes her feel good about herself and she’s emphatically sharing it with everyone she can. No one can argue that she is a woman of incredible power and influence. So her message is being heard worldwide.
How many of us as Christians are doing that? How many of us are so excited about our God that we are spreading His Good News all around the world?
In Romans 1:8, Paul tells those in Rome how thankful he is for them, because “their faith is being reported all over the world.” He goes on to say that he is obligated to preach the gospel “both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and foolish.” Share it with everyone. Oprah is doing that. If you are willing to sign up for her class, you’re in. No discrimination. And anyone in the world with internet access can hear it.
Oprah has suffered greatly in her life. We’ve all heard the abuse stories and know how hard she has worked to get where she is now. That’s the trouble. She has not relied on God to help her. She is doing it in her own power. She may be swimming in billions of dollars, but deep down, she’s still empty. There is a God-shaped hole in her heart and she’s trying to fill it with anything she can find.
Success hasn’t filled it. Fame and fortune hasn’t filled it. Losing weight didn’t fill it. Giving things to Africans didn’t fill it. Building a school for them didn’t fill it. Supporting Barack Obama is a temporary high, but it won’t fill it. Her “Big Give” TV show won’t fill it. And this hype that she’s touting as a life-changing program won’t fill it, either.
“Look at that man, bloated by self-importance – full of himself but soul-empty. But the person in right standing before God through loyal and steady believing is fully alive, really alive.”
Oprah’s answer is right there in Habukkuk 2:4. Doesn’t that sound like it’s describing her? She may seem to have it all right now, but she doesn’t. She’ll find what she’s missing when she stops running from God. Only He can make her be truly alive.
Instead of lashing out against her beliefs, shouldn’t we be praying for her? Show her some biblical compassion and mercy. Instead of pointing a finger and proclaiming her a heathen, blasphemer, cult leader, a “pied piper” and whatever else she’s been called, we need to see her for what she is: lost.
Can you imagine the eternal impact she could have if she were using her influence to share the gospel, instead of this belief system she’s promoting now?
Pray for her, everyone. Maybe that will be the next way she makes headlines…