I’ve just started reading a book called Desiring God, a book by John Piper. It’s a book that I’ve been looking forward to reading for a long time, and it’s been sitting on my bookshelf for a while. Much of my theology has been shaped by Piper – mostly through his sermons – and a huge part of that influence has come from the philosophy that is put forth in this book. Desiring God is probably Piper’s most important work, yet I’ve taken a while to get to reading it.
The most profound influence that Piper has had on me has been his idea of Christian Hedonism, the idea that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him. The ‘hedonism’ language can put people off, but the basic idea is simply that as Christians, we should unashamedly pursue joy in God, and that in doing so, we demonstrate that God is the most valuable thing to us.
We worship whatever we value most – whatever gives us purpose, joy, meaning, and fulfilment. Whether we find our fulfilment and purpose in money, family, a career, power, wisdom, intellect… whatever it is, we devote ourselves to it because we find it to be most valuable thing to us. And by doing so, we glorify that thing, and elevate it, and proclaim by our actions that that thing is most worthy of our lives.
As Christians, then, we are to pursue God, and seek our purpose, joy, meaning, and fulfilment in Him. This demonstrates that we find Him most worthy, and perfectly sufficient to meet all our needs. When we are completely satisfied with God alone, we demonstrate that He is enough. And by doing so, we glorify Him. God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.
Anyway, I’m getting a bit off track, because I didn’t intend to write a post explaining Christian Hedonism. And this is fortunate, because this is a very incomplete description of it. But that’s okay. You can look it up.
All I meant to say is that John Piper has made a massive impact on my life, and a big part of that has been the impartation of this philosophy of Christian Hedonism, that I might find my joy fully in God, and that this is the greatest purpose that I could ever find for my life.
It feels strange to start reading this book, Desiring God. I already feel so shaped by its contents, yet I’ve never even read it before. I have a strong feeling of expectancy, and a bit of wonder. The words on these pages feel eerily familiar, even though my eyes are meeting them for the first time.
I think I’ll be taking my time reading through this one, and really letting it sink in. Perhaps there’ll be some blog posts to come on some of the stuff in there. There is a lot to digest. Hopefully there will be some good stuff to share.