Clarifying Christian Hedonism

Now that school has started we have begun a new routine at bedtime. Abraham, Benjamin and Karsten each come to me in my study alone one by one. Each night I give them a new question from the famous Baptist Catechism of 1689. They learn the answer and we pray with this new truth at the center of our prayer.

The second question of the catechism is: “What is the chief end of man?” And the answer is: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” Enjoy God? Really? Is that our chief end? Is not to do it to be disobedient? To aim at happiness is not sin? Here’s what Swiss theologian Karl Barth said,

In every real man, the will for life is also the will for joy…He strives for different things with the…very definite…intention of securing joy for himself.… It is hypocrisy to hide this from oneself. And the hypocrisy will be at the expense of the ethical truth that he should will to enjoy himself just as he should will to eat, drink, sleep, be healthy, work, stand for what is right, and live in fellowship with God and his neighbor. A person who tries to debar himself from joy is certainly not an obedient person.

It is time for us at Bethlehem to clarify and make explicit our commitment to Christian Hedonism. We will do it with nine Sunday morning messages and some popcorn discussions with the pastor. Below are the message titles and texts. Use them to invite your friends. Study. Pray. O, that we might learn how to enjoy God! To say with Asaph, “There is nothing on earth that I desire besides Thee!”

  • Sept. 11, “The Happiness of God: Foundation of Christian Hedonism” (Jeremiah 32:36-41)
  • Sept. 18, “Conversion to Christ: The Making of a Christian Hedonist” (Matthew 13:44-46)
  • Sept. 25, “Worship: The Feast of Christian Hedonism” (Psalm 63)
  • Oct. 2, “Love: The Labor of Christian Hedonism” (2 Corinthians 8:1-8)
  • Oct. 9, “Money: Currency for Christian Hedonism” (1 Timothy 6:6-19)
  • Oct. 16, “Marriage: A Matrix of Christian Hedonism” (Ephesians 5:21-33)
  • Oct. 23, “Prayer: The Power of Christian Hedonism” (John 16:24)
  • Oct. 30, “The Bible: Kindling of Christian Hedonism” (Psalm 19)
  • Nov. 6, Missionary Guest
  • Nov. 13, “Missions: Battle Cry of Christian Hedonism” (Mark 10:17-31)

Happy to be with you in God,

Pastor John

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