What is Christian Hedonism?Hedonism is the pursuit of pleasure, so the term Christian Hedonism may sound like it contradicts itself. Shouldn't a Christian be pursuing the Lord? Absolutely! But this doesn't mean that pleasure itself is inherently anti-God. When we experience pleasure from something, it helps us to consciously realize how much we value it and the level of importance it has in our lives. John Piper created the term Christian Hedonism to reveal that God Himself should be our greatest source of joy. In Piper's own words: "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him."
Christian Hedonism brings with it the concept that the desire to pursue happiness and pleasure is something God has given us. What many people fail to recognize is that the only true fulfillment of that desire is found within God. Seeking pleasure is not the problem; seeking it apart from God is the problem. We will always come up short if we seek pleasure in ways that rebel against or ignore God (Jeremiah 2:13).
God should be our most desired treasure and we are called to bring glory to Him (1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:17; Isaiah 43:6–7). When we love someone, we find delight in being around them. To enjoy being around someone brings pleasure to us and value to them. When we truly delight ourselves in God, He is glorified in us. God desires our obedience, but it is important for us to know that He is more glorified through our delight in Him and its resulting overflow of obedience than He is by emotionless obedience (Joshua 1:8; Nehemiah 8:8–12; John 14:15; James 1:22). God delights in us; He wants us to delight in Him (Zephaniah 3:17; Psalm 37:4).
The focus of Christian Hedonism is the reward of eternal life with Christ rather than the temporal pleasures the world has to offer us now. Moses is a prime example of a Christian hedonist because, though he could have lived as an Egyptian royal, he chose "rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward" (Hebrews 11:25–26). Moses found true satisfaction in God and God was greatly glorified through Moses' life.
Psalm 16:11 says: "You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." When we choose to delight ourselves in God, He is glorified in us and we are satisfied in Him. He leads us in His paths and we obey Him gladly because we have the promise of eternity with Him. This is the premise of Christian Hedonism.
Please note: John Piper's statement that "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him" is biblical and his teaching of Christian Hedonism has much of biblical worth. As with any teaching, it is important to carefully compare what the author says with the Word of God.
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