Monday, May 2, 2011

joy

photo*: Martin Beek

I never thought I was a fan of John Piper.

To be honest, all I ever knew of Piper before this weekend was his self-proclaimed status as a "seven-point Calvinist" and that I would rather be confined in a small space with a rabid raccoon than with one of his more devoted fanboys.

But this weekend I heard him speak about joy at a Desiring God 2011 regional conference.

I'm not sure if it was the year sabbatical which granted us this kinder, gentler Piper or if I had simply made him a grotesque and angry monster in my mind on account of all the controversy he has caused over the years.

Nevertheless, I was blessed by what he had to say.

Desiring God** centers around a call to Christian Hedonism, a phrase coined by Piper. The basic idea is: "God is most glorified in me when I am most satisfied in Him."

Piper got called to task in his younger days for this idea, more because of his use of the word "Hedonism" than for the content of his idea. Still, some Christians can't help proclaiming that the kingdom of heaven must be entered into wearing a frown or else you're doing something wrong, and they love decrying anyone who dare preaches otherwise. Though, they will, of course, claim that it pains them greatly to do so.

As I'm still processing this weekend, one particular gem sticks out: to glorify God, we should enjoy the things that we enjoy in such a way that shows we enjoy something else much more. How can I glorify God while eating pizza? Eat less.

So many Christians secretly despise God because they consider Him a task-master holding the reward of heaven continually out of reach like a carrot in front of a horse, ever contingent on jumping yet one more hurdle.  I know I have.

What would happen if we actually believed that God loves us?  If we believed that God's call away from sin is toward greater joy, not toward grumpy self-righteousness?  If we believed that God is good and that allowing ourselves to be destroyed in order to be built up into His image might be the happiest thing that ever happened to us?

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*Apparently there was a British painter named John Piper who painted churches but is not the same as the pastor from Minnesota about whom this post is written.
**Disclaimer for my non-reformed friends out there: I've never read Desiring God, but based on what Piper presented at the conference, it would be a beneficial read for every Christian, especially those mature enough to appreciate authors who have different theological perspectives.  That said, Piper's theological stances are not necessarily reflective of mine or that of the church where I am currently employed, blah, blah, blah.

5 comments:

  1. So glad you joined Raj! I absolutely love love love your writing!

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  2. Thanks, Alicia! Hope I'm up to the challenge.

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  3. Bought the book - Shannon read it and loved it.

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  4. I've thought a lot about John Piper's Christian Hedonism ideas, and I find them really interesting, in a really good way. I've yet to read the book, though I've heard a great deal of positive things from people who have. I'm glad you enjoyed the conference tho, John Piper has some brilliant things to say about loving God.
    My favorite part of this was your * and **. XD

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  5. Thanks, Alanah.

    It's definitely on my must-read list now.

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