Friday, April 21, 2017

Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper

Don't Waste Your Life is John Piper's call to modern-day believers to a more radical faith walk. In spite of the choppy, repetitive first half of the book, I appreciated his clear-sighted proclamation of a personal righteousness that affects EVERY area of our lives.

Daily Christian living is daily Christian dying. (p. 71)

If Christ is an all-satisfying treasure and promises to provide all our needs, even through famine and nakedness, then to live as though we had all the same values as the world would betray him. (p. 107)

1 Peter 3:15 says, "Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you." Why don't people ask us about our hope? The answer is probably that we look as if we hope in the same things they do. I am wired by nature to love the same toys the world loves. I'm tempted to call earth "home" and to call luxuries "needs" and to use money the way that unbelievers do. (p. 109, 112)

My Calvinist friends emphasize God's sovereignty and glory. My non-Calvinist friends focus on His love and grace. But the Bible doesn't give us this either/or option. According to Piper, the sole motivation of the Christian life is to live for God's glory. I'm not against the theme of this book. My daily, hourly prayer is that my life will honor and glorify God. But it's because I love Him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. (Mark 12:30) And because He loved me when I was completely unworthy of his love. (Rom 5:8) I was astounded at the pains Piper took to evade the word "love" in relationship to God. In fact, the only time he uses it is in the negative sense:

So here is the question to test whether you have been sucked into this world's distortion of love: Would you feel more loved by God if he made much of you, or if he liberated you from the bondage of self-regard, at great cost to himself, so that you enjoy making much of him forever? (p. 36) In other passages he talks of "treasuring" Christ rather than loving Him.

Yes, I agree that God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him. Yes, "His name and renown is the desire of my heart" (Is 26:8), but I am dumbfounded by statements Piper makes such as, There is no greater joy than joy in the greatness of God. What about His goodness? His steadfast love is the sustaining lifeblood of every Christian. Surely, those who understand His costly love (not the cheap grace that Piper must be referring to) are the most likely to spend and be spent for His glory. (2 Cor 12:15)

Any thoughts on this?



Barbara H. said...

Wow, I didn't know that about this book or about Piper. I don't think I have read any of his books but I have read a few of his posts on the Desiring God web site and I follow him on Twitter. I had picked up that he's heavy on God's sovereignty. But I agree His love is just as great an attribute, and loving Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength is the greatest commandment, so it's odd Piper would de-emphasize that.

Barbara H. said...

Had another thought just after I hit "publish" - it's God's love to me that makes Him approachable, in my mind. I agree that some have emphasized His love at the expense of His holiness, but both are important.