John Piper has a ministry called ‘Desiring God’ and he has written various books about desiring God that I haven’t read. This one caught my eye because it’s about when we don’t desire God – something that we may find hard to admit and even harder to do something about.
Piper says that ‘God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him’ and he calls the doctrine surrounding this ‘Christian Hedonism’ (don’t stop reading because I used the hedonism word!). In his words, ‘Christian Hedonism is a liberating and devastating doctrine. It teaches that the value of God shines more brightly in the soul that finds deepest satisfaction in him. Therefore it is liberating because it endorses our inborn desire for joy. And it is devastating because it reveals that no one desires God with the passion he demands.’
He opens by telling us why he wrote the book. He had had an ‘unbiblical bondage of fear that it was wrong to pursue joy.’ Having understood that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him, ‘What had once seemed like an inevitable but defective quest for the satisfaction of my soul now became not just permitted but required. …I was free to pursue my fullest joy in God without guilt.’ The flip side of this, he explains is that we are not just permitted to pursue joy in God, we are commanded to and therefore not doing so ‘would be indifference to the glory of God, and that is sin.’
That was all on the first page, and having read that maybe you are thinking what I thought – ‘Well now I’m kind of committed to reading the rest of the book to find out what the pursuit of joy looks like, because I sure don’t know…’
Perhaps I should stop here, and just let you read the book! I’ll give you a few ideas of what’s in it first… Having unpacked the difference between desire and delight and reviewing the gospel message, he helps us to see how reading God’s word can satisfy us in him (and thus bring glory to God) and how prayer can do the same. He also devotes a chapter to how our 5 senses help us to sense God if we are listening to them, an experience of the glory of God that we maybe missing out on. He ends with a chapter about depression and spiritual darkness, which is really helpful. This book is a good primer on all these subjects, and worth reading just for that (but please don’t read it just for that – read the whole thing!).