John Piper’s shtick is joy. His zeal for the topic is beautiful and spreading as people read his literature. The topic for me is challenging as well, as I read through When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight For Joy. I want to glorify God, I know that and so the truth that “God is most glorified, when we are most satisfied in Him” is challenging to the very core of my walk. It has been ever since I heard Piper speak several years back at a conference. Sometimes it almost seems that it would be easier if I could simply take a deep breath and do the things I really don’t want to do, not like the outcome and have receive no personal fulfillment at all from my actions but all the while “know” that God was glorified. To truly glorify God would fly in the face of that. Piper says at first it seems to “lower the bar”, in terms of the demands of our walk with God. But in truth, it’s just an illusion. It’s not long before it’s obvious that the bar has been raised way above our heads.
In an interesting segment in When I Don’t Desire God, Piper describes joy and the essence of it in Jesus, with images of the Titanic in mind. I’d like to share the picture.
“Nothing is more foundational for the joy of undeserving people than the cross of Jesus Christ. The fight for joy is a fight to grasp and marvel at what happened in the death of Christ—and what it reveals about our suffering savior. If it were not for the death of Jesus in our place, the only possible joy would be the joy of delusion—like the joy on the Titanic just before it hit the iceberg, Without the cross, joy could be sustained only by denying (consciously or subconsciously) the inevitability of divine judgment. In fact, that’s the kind of joy that drives most of the world—a joy that preserves the power of its pleasures but being oblivious to the peril just ahead. If the passengers were suddenly made aware that in a matter of hours most of them would drown in the icy ocean, all their merrymaking would cease. Their joy depends on their ignorance.
However, if the passengers knew that the ocean liner would sink, but that a great armada of utterly dependable ships and sailors was already on the way and would arrive and save everyone who followed their instructions, something very different would happen. To be sure, the lighthearted merrymaking would cease, and a great seriousness would spread over the Titanic; but there would be a different kind of joy—a deep sense of gratitude for the rescuers, and a deep sense of hope that, though much would be lost, life would be saved. Some may panic in unbelief, doubting the promise of rescue. But others would rise in strength and hope and do great acts of love in preparation for the coming destruction.”