“Let this be your life: Ponder Him; be pervaded with Him; point to Him. The more you know of Him, the more you admire the fullness of His beauty, the more you will reflect Him. O that there would be thousands of irresistible reflections of the beauty of Jesus. May it be said of such reflections, ‘It disarms us. It takes away our arguments.'” – John Piper
Selfishness seeks its own private happiness at the expense of others. Love seeks its happiness in the happiness of the beloved.
– John Piper
I was listening to a John Piper sermon today (surprise, surprise) on the life on C.S. Lewis and his pursuit of Joy. It’s a great sermon.
This quote struck me,
“Lewis’s pursuit of Joy by means of rational defenses of objective truth has had liberating effect on me. He freed me from false dichotomies. He demonstrated for me and convinced me that rigorous, precise, penetrating logic is not inimical to deep, soul-stirring feeling and vivid, lively imagination. He was a ‘romantic rationalist.’ He combined what almost everybody today assumes are mutually exclusive: rationalism and poetry, cool logic and warm feeling, disciplined prose and free imagination. In shattering these old stereotypes for me, he freed me to think hard and to write poetry, to argue for the resurrection and compose hymns to Christ, to smash an argument and hug a friend, to demand a definition and use a metaphor. It is a wonderful thing when a great man shows a struggler how to be himself.”
As I read it I realized that this is exactly what John Piper has done for me. Naturally I am a passionate, feelings-oriented, emotional highs and lows type of girl. But Piper (in conjunction with Papa C, Andrea Kolstad, my time at Master’s, and the Word of God) has taught me to think hard and deeply about the things of God, wrestle with truth, be strongly convinced of it, AND love it with the passion God has given me.
Praise the Lord.
“Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.”
– 1 Corinthians 14:20
This morning I was reading an article in the Journal of Biblical Counseling on how we are to think about ongoing consequences for forgiven sin. The response was taken from A Godward Life by John Piper. In one part Piper discussed the love of God and how it enables obedience and change in the life of the believer. This is what I’ve been trying to articulate, but, of course, Piper says it much better so I thought I would share it with you as well. This stuff is truly amazing:
“The Bible assumes that God is the decisive factor in making us what we should be. With wonderful bluntness the Bible says, ‘Put away malice and be tenderhearted.’ It does not say, ‘If you can…’ or, ‘If your parents were tender-hearted to you…’ or, ‘If you weren’t terribly wronged or abused….’ It says simply, ‘Be tender-hearted.’
…This is wonderfully freeing. It frees us from the terrible fatalism that says change is impossible. It frees from mechanistic views that make our backgrounds our destinies. His commands always come with freeing, life changing truth to believe. For example: ‘Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other [that’s the command], just as God in Christ also has forgiven you [that’s the life-changing truth]. Therefore be imitators of God [command], as beloved children [life-changing truth]; and walk in love [command], just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma [life-changing truth]’ (Eph. 4:32-5:2).
There is life-changing power in the truths of this text. Ponder them with me as you pray for that power to change you.
1. God adopted us as His children. We have a new Father and a new family. This breaks the fatalistic forces of our ‘family of origin.’ ‘Do not call anyone on earth your father, for One is your Father, He who is in heaven’ (Matt. 23:9). I once heard a young man quote Hebrews 12:10-11 with tears of deep conviction and great joy because they assured him that he was not doomed to think of God in the terms of his abusive earthly father: ‘They [our earthly fathers] disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.’ They did this…but He does that. This is a life-changing truth. We can know it, believe it, and be changed by it, no matter what kind of earthly fathers we have. God reveals Himself in His Word to revolutionize our thinking about His fatherhood. We are not cursed to think in the old categories if our upbringing was defective.
2. God loves us as His children.We are ‘loved children.’ The command to imitate the love of God does not hang in the air; it comes with power: ‘Be imitators of God as loved children.’ ‘Love!’ is the command. ‘Being loved’ is the power.
3. God has forgiven us in Christ. Be tender-hearted and forgiving just as God in Christ forgave you. What God did for us becomes the power to change. He forgave us. That opens a relationship of love and a future of hope. And does not tender-heartedness flow from a heart overwhelmed with being loved undeservedly and being secured eternally? The command to be tender-hearted has more to do with what God has done for you than what your mother or father did to you. You are not enslaved to your past.
4. Christ loved you and gave Himself up for you. ‘Walk in love just as Christ loved you.’ The command to walk in love comes with the life-changing truth that we are loved. At the moment when there is a chance to love, and some voice says, ‘You are not a loving person,’ you can say, ‘Christ’s love for me makes me a new kind of person. His command to love is just as surely possible for me as His promise of love is true for me.’
My plea is that you resist fatalism with all your might. No, with all God’s might. Change is possible. Pursue it.“
— Excerpted from the book, A Godward Life, by John Piper
And they went on to another village. As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.” And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” And He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” But He said to him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.” Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
“What Jesus is doing in our text is to test you, to see if this is enough, to see if he is really your treasure, your joy, your security, your hope, your friend in times of loneliness, your home, your father and mother, your power to look straight ahead – to test you in all these ways, he tells you what it will cost. Don’t make these hard words more difficult than they are. He is not saying, ‘There will never be time when you have a bed and pillow and a roof.’ He’s not saying, ‘It will always be wrong to be at your parent’s funeral.’….
The point of all these tough words as Jesus interacts with different people is not to create laws that all disciples…have to keep: Thou shalt give all your money! Thou shalt give half your money! Thou shalt go without a bed! Thou shalt go without a funeral for your dad! The point is that Jesus knows everyone’s idol. Jesus knows perfectly what is competing in your heart with affection for him. He looks everyone of us in the face this morning and sees right to our heart.
Let him do that for you now. Don’t take offense. He does this to win us for himself. “Follow me!” is the goal. Being with Jesus is the goal. It won’t be easy. But it will be good. There will be joy even if there is continual sorrow (2 Corinthians 6:10 – ‘sorrowful but always rejoicing’). Because he will be with us.”