In my own experience, I had previously viewed enjoying God as an added bonus to the true duty of a believer: rigorous obedience to Christian duties (eg. praying, evangelizing, serving), even if those duties are emotionless, loveless. But what does Jesus say? “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word" (Jn. 14:23). Love (delight) and obedience are directly related. Delight is not just a spin-off of obedience to God, but it is part of it. The strongest type of obedience is affection-based obedience.
The concept of seeking to find our delight in God as a primary goal of a believer is not a new idea.
It goes back to Moses who said, “Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joy and a glad heart…therefore you shall serve your enemies” (Deut. 28:47-48). And to king David, who prayed, “Satisfy us in the morning with Your lovingkindness, that we may…be glad all our days” (Ps. 90:14); and who promised that complete and lasting pleasure is found in God alone: “In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever” (Ps. 16:11).
Even Jesus understood that delight is an essential part of a believer’s duty. Jesus said, “I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full” (Jn. 15:11); Jesus even endured the cross “for the joy set before Him” (Heb. 12:2).
3 areas impacted by delighting in God:
- Worship – Worship without delighting in God is nothing more than a religious duty that causes coldness in our hearts. When worship is reduced to a duty, it ceases to exist. Suppose a husband asks his wife if he must kiss her good night. Her answer is, “You must, but not that kind of a must.” What she means is this: “Unless a spontaneous affection for my person motivates you, your overtures are stripped of all moral value.”
When our aim is to find our pleasure in God, worship becomes a motivated response of love upon seeing the beauty of God. It is a feast to our spirits and a delight to our souls.
- Money – America spends a lot of money on our own pursuit of pleasure. 10.5 billion dollars was spent last year on movies alone. Apple Inc’s annual revenue in 2009 was 42.9 billion (a majority of that is mobile devices). It’s clear that we seek our own pleasure as a primary goal in life. But when our primary pleasure is found and satisfied in God, our seeking of other pleasures lessons. We spend our money on entertainment because we are attempting to fill a desire for God. When God is our source of delight, we don’t need to attempt to fill that desire with entertainment.
- Relationships – God designed our relationships to be a partnership of support and encouragement in life. Not the source of life. The problem with seeking pleasure outside of God – in regards to relationships – is that we think the other person can fulfill us, and they’re thinking the same thing. Broken hearts, shattered dreams and disillusioned hopes are sure to follow.
Seeking our delight in God as a primary focus in life causes our relationships to take their proper place: as a mutual partnership of helpers.
To be clear: I do not mean that our happiness is the highest good. I mean that pursuing the highest good will always result in our greatest happiness in the end. We should not make a god out of our seeking of delight. But in reality, we make a god out of what we take most pleasure in. That ‘god’ should be God.
C.S. Lewis puts it like this:
“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 too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered 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 too easily pleased.”
What do you think: Is God most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him?
- Living a Life Fueled By Desire
- Worship: The Feast of Christian Hedonism
- Christian Hedonism: Forgive the Label, But Don’t Miss the Truth
- Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist, John Piper
- The Pleasures of God: Meditations on God’s Delight in Being God, John Piper
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