Worship Like a Hedonist

Worship Like a Hedonist

Let me encourage you to take a very hedonistic approach to worship this weekend, and to every corporate worship gathering.

We Christians don’t believe that human pleasure in itself is the highest good, but we should believe that finding our pleasure in God is essential in our participating in the highest good — the glory of God. As we love to celebrate here at Desiring God, God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.

Since the glory of God is the highest good, and the way in which we glorify him most is by being satisfied in him — enjoying him or maximizing our pleasure in him — then the most important approach for us to take together in our weekly worship gatherings is to seek him hedonistically. To aim together at maximizing our pleasure in him.

Whether it’s the singing, the preaching, the praying, the reciting, the giving, or the coming together at the Lord’s Table, the most important obedience to pursue may be this: to rejoice, to delight.

  • Psalm 37:4: “Delight yourself in the Lord”

  • Psalm 32:11: “Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice”

  • Philippians 4:4: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice”

In corporate worship, and in all of life, we’ll want to ask God to give us the heart of Psalm 63:1: “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”

If you want a spiritual sensation to seek maybe it’s quenching your thirst. The picture from Psalm 42 is a thirsty deer, aching for water — call it “the hart of worship.” “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” (Psalm 42:1–2).

Perhaps your experience resonates with those of us who would say, in the words of John Piper, “the revolt against hedonism has killed the spirit of worship in many churches” (Desiring God, 98). Surprising as it may seem, we would encourage you this weekend to ban any thought of disinterestedness — because “worship is the most hedonistic affair of life and must not be ruined with the least thought of disinterestedness” (98).

We believe that “the hedonistic approach to God in worship is the only humble approach because it is the only approach that comes with empty hands” (95–96). It is good news that “the enemy of worship is not that our desire for pleasure is too strong, but too weak!” (99).

So, as you prepare your heart for, and enter into, corporate worship this weekend, don’t tone your desires down or put your heart aside. Don’t just go through the motions. Don’t let mere duty be the driver. Come to feast on God and his goodness to us in Jesus. Come to satisfy your deepest longings in the very one “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:2).

We come not to meet any needs in God, but to have our greatest needs met in his grace.

Let’s worship like hedonists.


More on corporate worship from Desiring God:

David Mathis (@davidcmathis) is executive editor at desiringGod.org and an elder at Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis. He has edited several books, including Thinking. Loving. Doing., Finish the Mission, and Acting the Miracle, and is co-author of How to Stay Christian in Seminary.