Pastor Carl Lentz sat down recently with Oprah Winfrey to explain the premise of Christianity. Winfrey’s take away from their conversation is that Lentz focuses on the relationship aspect of God, not the religious aspect.
“Your goal is to transform the way people experience their relationship with God. Would you say?” Winfrey offers. Lentz agrees with that statement, then expounds: “People waste so much time doing it in their own strength and they can’t figure out why it’s not working.”
Lentz is the head pastor of Hillsong Church in New York city. He says, “I pray churches like ours can give people a clearer view” of what having a relationship with God looks like.
Lentz then goes on to explain what he believes the key to developing a relationship with God is: “I think the premise of Christianity is looking in the mirror going ‘All right, I’m not going to make it. I can’t do enough. God I need you.’ In that moment, I believe there’s a rescue, a salvation, that you can’t counterfeit any other way.”
He says, If you admit your need, repent and “hand over the keys,” God can “do this better than you can.”
At [1:16], the clip ends and what follows is information about Winfrey’s SuperSoul Sunday series. This segment on Winfrey’s show is known for having people of all different faiths and persuasions on to be interviewed by Winfrey on the subject of spirituality.
Lentz is known for being the pastor of a handful of celebrities, and his church is known for drawing large crowds. In our increasingly post-Christian society that is becoming more and more disillusioned with traditional religion, perhaps Lentz’s words on the emphasis on relationship with God over religious practices or a works mindset will help those viewing Winfrey’s show to reconsider their stance on Christianity.
Lest you think Lentz just went on Winfrey’s show to offer a positive feeling message lacking Biblical truth, in the next clip he goes on to talk about the evidence we see in the Bible of Jesus being the only way of salvation. “I know people who think Jesus is an option; he’s a good guy; he was a moralist. I don’t see him like that. I saw Jesus as salvation,” Lentz says.
To Lentz, Jesus is “the answer. He’s the sacrifice; he’s the atonement.” People sometimes get confused with the gospel, though, because “it is good news, but it begins with bad news. We’re all in trouble.” This is the part that people get hung up on: We have to understand that Jesus saved us from our own evil-ness. We have to swallow the pill, so to speak, that says we are sinners in need of salvation, and we cannot find or bring about that salvation in our own strength.
Finally, in the next clip Lentz seems to address the prosperity gospel. “Once you realize that God has saved your soul, he doesn’t owe me another thing. If God never did another thing in my life—Jesus rescuing my soul was enough.”