What is Christian hedonism? In John Piper’s book Desiring God, he thoroughly explains the meaning of this term and why he thinks it even needs to exist. John coined the term, but he admits that many of his ideas are based on teachings of the great theologian, Jonathan Edwards. And he claims that it springs from the experiences of his own life and his understanding of scripture.
He expresses the idea of Christian hedonism in the short phrase: “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”
I resisted this terminology at first, but as I read through his book, I began to see his logic and the simplicity of the idea. I believe that Piper is right, but I don’t think that a lot of believers truly believe it. Even in my own life, I know this should be true, but I don’t always embrace this truth. Do we actually believe that God can best satisfy all our needs — material, spiritual, emotional, relational, developmental?
Our God is a jealous God. However, I’m not sure we have learned what that means in the context of God’s nature. We tend to relate to jealousy strictly in human terms. For example, I’m jealous when my wife pays more attention to someone else rather than me. When his or her idea is considered better than mine. When they make more money than I do and do less work. All of this comes from my selfish motives, and a desire to be number one at the other person’s expense.
In contrast, I believe that God wants us to focus on Him, not because He’s some megalomaniac, not because He wants us to endure a dull, unhappy life, not because He craves attention, but because He truly is the best object of our desires. He is the real longing we seek to satisfy. Our deepest joy and happiness comes from a close and true relationship with Him.
What do you think about this term – Christian hedonism? Is Piper right in expressing it this way or is there a better way to say it? Can seeking our own joy and happiness also glorify God?