This abbreviated version summarizes Piper’s published book Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist from Multnomah Publishers, 1996. Piper has given the provocative name of Christian Hedonism to what he terms the pursuit of finding our greatest joy in the person of Jesus Christ. He would alter the Westminster Confession just slightly to read that “the chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever.”
He makes a strong case for some startling observations that seem to run against the grain of accepted Christian viewpoints. Instead of criticizing believers for being too caught up in the pursuit of happiness, he maintains with C. S. Lewis that our chief problem is that we are “far too easily pleased.” In other words we are satisfied with less than what God would have for us; we need desperately to wake up and orient our desires towards delighting in God Himself.
You have probably heard such statements as the following in many sermons and books:
– “Love is primarily a matter of the will; the emotions will follow.”
– “Don’t pursue joy; pursue obedience and joy will follow.”
– “Emotions cannot be commanded.”
– “If you do something out of a motivation of obtaining personal reward, you have acted selfishly to some degree.”
– “People should come to corporate worship to give instead of to get.”
– “Worship must be devoid of all self-interest.”
– “Love must be free of self-interest.”
Piper tackles each of these common assumptions head-on and shows that the true biblical teaching commands us to pursue our own satisfaction in Christ — because that is exactly when God is most glorified.
After demonstrating that Christian Hedonism “is essential for all true worship and virtue” Piper goes on to trace the implications in the four practical areas of life and ministry: “corporate worship, marriage, money, and missions.”
How can Piper promote both a God-centered theology and still argue for a position of Christian Hedonism? The explanations may surprise you . . . but the freedom of panting after God like a deer after the streams of water will draw your thirsty soul in and focus your vision on the beauty of the supremacy of our Lord Jesus Christ. Hopefully we will experience together with Piper that the “steadfast love of the Lord is better than life.” (Psalm 63:3).