Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Like a Forgotten Peach in the back of the Refrigerator

Lately I have been re-reading Desiring God by Dr. John Piper. My soul has been filled with great delight as I am being reminded of the sheer joy that comes when we find our pleasure in God. Piper's lifelong theme has been: "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him." In chapter two Piper is addressing the issue that humans are far too easily pleased but even to a greater degree Christians are delighting in many others temporal pleasures when we are the ones who know God and have pleasures forevermore (Ps. 16:11). Piper says this:

"Through long drinking at the broken cistern of mud-pie pleasures, many have lost almost all capacity for delighting in God - not unlike what happened to Charles Darwin. Near the end of his life he wrote an autobiography for his children in which he expressed one regret:

'Up to the age of 30 or beyond it, poetry of many kinds...gave me great pleasure, and even as a schoolboy I took intense delight in Shakespeare.... Formerly pictures gave me considerable, and music very great, delight. But now for many years I cannot endure to read a line of poetry: I have tried to read Shakespeare, and found it so intolerably dull that it nauseated me. I have also almost lost any taste for pictures or music.... I retain some taste for fine scenery, but it does not cause me the exquisite delight which it formerly did.... My mind seems to have become a kind of machine for grinding general laws out of large collections of facts, but why this should have cause the atrophy of that part of the brain alone, on which the higher tastes depend, I cannot conceive.... The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the intellect, and more probably to the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature.'

Worship services across the land bear the scars of this process. For many, Christianity has become the grinding out of general doctrinal laws from collections of biblical facts. But childlike wonder and awe have died. The scenery and poetry and music of the majesty of God have dried up like a forgotten peach at the back of the refrigerator.

And the irony is that we have aided and abetted the desiccation by telling people they ought not seek their own pleasure, especially in worship. We have implied in a thousand ways that the virtue of an act diminishes to the degree you enjoy doing it and that doing something because it yields happiness is bad. The notion hangs like a gas in the Christian atmosphere."

Grace upon grace,

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