"Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." Matthew 5:16

Monday, October 18, 2010

Christianity: It is not about do and don't!

When you think about the Christian life, do you focus on what you should or should not do? I would assume that most people think Christianity is about missing out on a lot of fun stuff in life. Most people would not associate self-pleasure with God's purpose for life. I admit. The thought of joy and happiness and self'-pleasure were not in the top five thoughts about Christianity for me until 1998. That is when I stumbled upon the life changing book Desiring God. Outside of the Bible, there are two books that have changed my life, Desiring God and Pilgrim's Progress. (consequently the two most influential distant mentors in my life have been John Piper and John Bunyan) I want to blog several post dealing with the idea of Christian Hedonism. Do not let the title offend you. Read the blog post with an open mind.

Let me first give one text that makes Christian Hedonism both Scriptural and undeniable.

"You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11)"

Did you catch that? David tells us that when we are in God's presence we are filled to overflowing with joy. He further instructs us in the reality that Jesus Christ is a guarantee of pleasure forevermore!

In summary of this first post let me say two things and leave with a quote for you to contemplate.

  1. The problem we face in Christianity is not that we desire personal pleasure. The problem is we find personal fulfillment and pleasure in the wrong place! Our pleasure should come from a full on pursuit of the glory of God, a passionate relationship with our Savior, and an unyielding heart of praise for our Creator!
  2. It is God's design for us to be pleasure seekers. If you try to deny this fact, you will become more and more sinful and miserable. God has designed us to seek after joy and fulfillment and pleasure because he wants us to find those things in him alone. Piper says it simply when he writes, "God is most glorified by us when we are most satisfied in Him!" We need more self-pleasure seekers in Christianity not less. I pray we will all become Christian Hedonist for the glory of God!
Piper was influenced in his thinking and theology, outside the Bible, most by Johnathan Edwards. You can almost see, hear, smell Edwards when you are with Piper in a book. But the second most influential dead personality, outside the Bible, on Piper's thinking is C.S. Lewis. It was Lewis' book entitled Weight of Glory that helped solidify John Piper's thoughts on Christian Hedonism. here is a short quote from that book that I think we should all spend time thinking about.

"If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but to weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered to us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far to easily pleased."

Think over this teaching and I will talk to you soon...CW

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