Christian Hedonism (it’s a good thing)

chief end of manThe Westminster Shorter Catechism (a summary of Christian beliefs from England in the 1600s) describes the ultimate purpose of mankind this way: “The chief end of man (men/women) is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”

That’s a pretty remarkable statement. Our ultimate end/purpose is to enjoy God forever.

I’ve known a lot of Christians who didn’t seem like they enjoyed God very much. They dourly went about their faith with all the excitement of a dental patient, never seeming to delight in the life that Jesus claimed to offer. If following Jesus has become a grim, arduous affair for us, then we’ve somehow lost sight of what it really means to follow Him.

I mean consider what Jesus offers us: forgiveness…the guidance of the Holy Spirit…unconditional love…destiny…significance and purpose…the sense of God’s presence…the power to live in our higher nature. The Christian life is not easy to live–indeed every Christian goes through seasons of testings, trials, and tribulations–but when it is truly lived it is ultimately delightful.

King David said it this way “You fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand” (Psalm 16:11). Pastor John Piper echoed David’s sentiment by popularizing the term “Christian hedonism.” Mr. Piper believes that we followers of Jesus Christ should unapologetically seek the joyous benefits associated with the Christian faith. Indeed, Piper believes that enjoying the benefits of a life with God are central to successfully living the Christian faith.

Understandably, some people criticize the linking of the words Christian and hedonism. After all, unrestrained, hedonistic pleasure-seeking is not a part of the Christian path. However, Piper is not wrong.

Jesus said that if we come to Him we would find rest for our souls, living water, and an abundant kind of life. Is it wrong for us to want the things that He claims to freely offer us?

Well what about selfishness? We don’t want a self-centered motivation for our faith do we? And we don’t want to elevate the gifts above the giver.

Those are great points! So let’s not do those things. Let’s not be selfish. Let’s not crave the blessings while ignoring the one who blesses. But let’s certainly not think that it is somehow more holy or pious to live a joyless, white-knuckle kind of faith.

Jesus is fun. God is the author of laughter as well as the comfort for our tears. And it brings Him glory when our ultimate delight is centered in Him.

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