Rebuilding Some Basics of Bethlehem: Christian Hedonism

One of the marks of our church is the aroma of Christian Hedonism. This is the biblical truth that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. The basis for this is deep, and the implications are as high as infinity and as long as eternity (both directions).

One place to see the basis is Philippians 1:20-21, where Paul says his “eager expectation and hope [is] that . . . Christ will . . . be honored in my body . . . by death. For to me . . . to die is gain.” His passion is that Christ be magnified in his death. Paul’s explanation is that for him “death is gain.” The reason death is gain is that to die is “to depart and be with Christ” (verse 23).

Therefore, Paul believed that Christ is magnified by his being so satisfied in Christ that leaving everything else behind in death is not loss but gain. So he says in Philippians 3:8, “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”

So I conclude: Christ is most magnified in us when we are most satisfied in him—especially in suffering and death. Hence the banner of Christian Hedonism flies over our church: God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.

The implications of this are pervasive. One of the biggest implications is that we should, therefore, pursue our joy in God. Should! Not may. The main business of our hearts is maximizing our satisfaction in God. Not our satisfaction in his gifts, no matter how good, but in him. Here are eight biblical reasons to pursue your greatest and longest satisfaction in God.

1) We are commanded to pursue satisfaction.

Psalm 100:2: “Serve the Lord with gladness!” Philippians 4:4: “Rejoice in the Lord always.” Psalm 37:4: “Delight yourself in the Lord.”

2) We are threatened if we don’t pursue satisfaction in God.

Deuteronomy 28:47-48: “Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart . . . therefore you shall serve your enemies.”

3) The nature of faith teaches the pursuit of satisfaction in God.

Hebrews 11:6: “Without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”

4) The nature of evil teaches the pursuit of satisfaction in God.

Jeremiah 2:12-13: “Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the Lord, for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.”

5) The nature of conversion teaches the pursuit of satisfaction in God.

Matthew 13:44: “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”

6) The call for self-denial teaches the pursuit of satisfaction in God.

Mark 8:34-36: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?”

7) The demand to love people teaches the pursuit of satisfaction in God.

Hebrews 12:2: “For the joy that was set before him [Jesus] endured the cross.” Acts 20:35: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

8) The demand to glorify God teaches the pursuit of satisfaction in God.

Philippians 1:20-21: “It is my eager expectation and hope that . . . Christ will be [glorified] in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain (final and total satisfaction in him).”

Therefore, I invite you to join George Mueller, the great prayer warrior and lover of orphans, in saying, “I saw more clearly than ever, that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord.” In this way, we will be able to suffer the loss of all things in the sacrifices of love, and “count it all joy.”

Pursuing God with you,

Pastor John

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