So there Maggie and I were on a hot day in Florida in June on holiday when who should walk past us but Dr John Piper. He is one of my modern day heroes of evangelicalism, the former pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, and I have enjoyed his books and also watched some of his sermons. His book on marriage called “This Momentary Marriage is an absolute classic that every married couple should read. Why? Because it affirms marriage as the deeply biblical covenantal relationship that it is and elevates marriage to its proper lofty heights as an earthly depiction of the relationship between Christ and his bride, the church.
But Piper’s real contribution to evangelicalism is in the term “Christian hedonism” – which was coined in his classic book “Desiring God.” In its most succinct form he summarises it like this
"God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him"
Our greatest pleasure and our greatest treasure is to be found in Christ. He is the centre of the gospel as well as its outcome and everything in our lives should be determined by the gospel. God’s highest pursuit ("his glory") and man's deepest and most durable happiness come together in one pursuit—namely, the pursuit of joy in God. That’s it in a nutshell!!
Christian hedonism is diametrically opposed to the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, who argued that an action is only moral if you have no desire to perform it, nor gain any benefit from it. By contrast, Piper argues...
“But not only is disinterested morality (doing good "for its own sake") impossible; it is undesirable. That is, it is unbiblical; because it would mean that the better a man became the harder it would be for him to act morally. The closer he came to true goodness the more naturally and happily he would do what is good. A good man in Scripture is not the man who dislikes doing good but toughs it out for the sake of duty. A good man loves kindness (Micah 6:8) and delights in the law of the Lord (Psalm 1:2), and the will of the Lord (Psalm 40:8). But how shall such a man do an act of kindness disinterestedly? The better the man, the more joy in obedience”
Anyway, we couldn’t believe that this formidable Christian scholar and preacher should be in our vicinity, so we did what any self respecting admirers would do – we followed him (!) until we were sure it was really him and then thanked him for his work and contribution to the kingdom. We were pleased that we were able to do that personally this side of eternity.
He graciously allowed us to be photographed with him. As you can see, Maggie and I were in real holiday mode!! But it made our day!!
Here’s another one of his quotes I read recently......
“One of the great uses of Twitter and Facebook will be to prove at the Last Day
that prayerlessness was not from lack of time.”
Think about it!!