Everyone desires a full and joyful life, right? In Desiring God, John Piper encourages this pursuit through hedonism; Christian hedonism, that is. Even the thought of this – Christian hedonism – is hard to reconcile at first glance. The term “hedonism” broadly refers to the pursuit of pleasure. The term “Christian” means “like Christ” – like the one who said He came not to be served, but to serve others, even laying His life down for them. So, are these concepts not antithetical? Is “Christian hedonism” not an oxymoron?
Piper believes that, far from being antithetical, these two concepts MUST go together. To be truly Christian – like Christ – one must live for the glory of God. And, the best way to live for God’s glory is to find one’s greatest pleasure in God, showing Him as the greatest satisfaction of the deepest longings of the human heart. As Piper puts it, “the chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever” (emphasis original).
The benefits of this book are its clarity, repetition and practicality. With great care, Piper explains both what he means, and what he does NOT mean, when he talks about “Christian hedonism.” This care is important as this terminology is unfamiliar at best, and likely controversial to many. Further, as if making his point to young children, Piper reiterates his central theme over and over again, using all manner of examples and illustrations, making sure the reader gets it. Finally, the various chapters addressing the practical issues of life (i.e. worship, marriage, money, suffering, etc.) show that one’s relationship with God, and one’s enjoyment of Him, is not limited to some “spiritual” slice of life that applies only to activities that take place at the church building on Sunday. This “Christian hedonism” is to be the regular flow of one’s life: a continual pursuit of glorifying God in every aspect of one’s life by means of seeking immeasurable and unending joy in Him.
Overall, this book is one that would benefit every Christ-follower. The new believer will better understand the depth of the relationship with God to which he has been called. The more mature believer will be both reminded of some things he has allowed to wander too far from his consciousness and/or practice, and challenged to consider some aspects of walking with God he has not yet considered, at least in the way Piper presents them. This book is both challenging and encouraging. May we heed its message, seeking to “glorify God by enjoying Him forever.”
FTC Disclaimer: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.