After having several people recommend Desiring God I just recently ordered Piper’s classic and dived into it a couple of days ago. And so far I’d have to say that it truly is as good as people have claimed. John Piper clearly lays out the often overlooked and misunderstood truth that as Christian’s the pursuit of pleasure is not optional. It is essential. Everyone on planet Earth is seeking happiness. And as Christians we should be seeking to be satisfied in God. He needs to be our one joy. We need to desire God.
Chapter 1 is entitled The Happiness of God. This is a fairly simple chapter. It presents the foundation of Christian Hedonism (Piper’s preferred name for this philosophy of being happy in God) is the fact that God is uppermost in His own affections. That the chief end of God is to glorify God and to enjoy Himself forever.
This is somewhat of a hard truth to swallow. For it goes against many of the things we are taught as children. We do not to like people who are vain and who are enamored with themselves. However God is not like these narcissists. And Piper explains why God is different. First, God is not weak, needy or inauthentic. He isn’t trying to cover up some deficiency that He has by seeking praise from others. He obviously is not in this category of second-handers (those who don’t enjoy the joy that comes from achieving something, but from the compliments of others). God is not weak and has no deficiencies. “From him and through him and to him are all things.” (Acts 17:25).
The second stumbling block is that the Bible teaches us that love does not seek its own. How can God be a God of love and yet be completely consumed in seeking His own glory and praise? Piper points out that this doesn’t apply to God because God is unique in the fact that he is an all-glorious and utterly self-sufficient Being. God must be for Himself if He is to be for us. If God looked somewhere else for joy it would imply that there is something more satisfying than God. And then God would be unrighteous. He would be unworthy of our praise.
The third point that Piper makes in the first chapter is that delight is incomplete until it is expressed. And I believe that this quote sums up this point perfectly:
“I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed.”