This book made me realize that I, like John Piper, fall into the category of “Christian Hedonist.” By pursuing my own pleasure, I bring glory to God. A point he starts with in his chapter titled “Conversion” brings light to the actual beginning point of one’s relationship with the Lord. He says,
“It implies that something has happened in our hearts before the act of faith. It implies that beneath and behind and in the act of faith that pleases God, a new taste has been created-a taste for the gory of God and the beauty of Christ. Behold, a kind of joy has been born! Once we had no delight in God, and Christ was just a vague historical figure. What we enjoyed was food and friendships and productivity and investments and vacations and hobbies and games and reading and shopping and sex and sports and art and TV and travel…but not God. He was an idea-even a good one-and a topic for discussion; but He was not a treasure of delight. Then something miraculous happened. It was like the opening of the eyes of the blind during the golden dawn. First the stunned silence before the unspeakable beauty of holiness. Then the shock and terror that we had actually loved the darkness. Then the settling stillness of joy that this is the souls end. The quest is over. We would give anything if we might be granted to live in the presence of this glory forever and ever. And then faith-the confidence that Christ has made a way for me, a sinner, to live in His glorious fellowship forever, the confidence that if I come to God through Christ, He will give me the desire of my heart to share His holiness and behold His glory. But before the confidence comes the craving. Before the decision comes the delight. Before trust comes the discovery of Treasure” (Piper 72).
Well, that pretty much sums up the beauty of accepting Christ as your Lord and savior. If you, like me, have had this moment, reading these words brought up wonderful emotion as you reflected on your own moment of transformation. But, the message of his book is more than this. “The pursuit of joy in God is not optional. It is not an ‘extra’ that a person might grow into after he comes to faith. It is not simply a way to ‘enhance’ your walk with the Lord. Until your heart has hit upon this pursuit, your ‘faith’ cannot please God. It is not saving faith” (Piper 73). The aspect of John Piper’s writing that I personally enjoy the most is his ability to be blunt. He hits exactly what he wants to say, and sometimes it hurts, but it’s always in the best way. The rest of his book is divided into chapters, each of which covers a different topic of life and faith (i.e marriage, missions, money, etc..). And he early on defines Christian Hedonism as “a philosophy of life built o the following five convictions:
- The longing to be happy is a universal human experience, and it is good, not sinful. We should never try to deny or resist our longing to be happy, as though it were a bad impulse.
- Instead, we should seek to intensify this longing and nourish it with whatever will provide the deepest and most enduring satisfaction.
- The deepest and most enduring happiness is found only in God. Not from God, but in God.
- The happiness we find in God reaches its consummation when it is shared with others in the manifold ways of love.
- To the extent that we try to abandon the pursuit of our own pleasure, we fail to honor God and love people. Or, to put it positively: The pursuit of pleasure is a necessary part of all worship and virtue. That is: the chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever.”
It is a long, absolutely fascinating read that I highly recommend. It will challenge your faith, and make you question what you think you know about the pursuit of God. As each section dives deeper into the practicality of this idea through the normalcies of our human life, it helps you better understand what you meant when you said “Yes, I’ve accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior.” I will end with this just to get your mind reeling a bit.
“The wisdom of God has ordained a way for the love of God to deliver us from the wrath of God without compromising the justice of God” (Piper 61).