How to Explain Christian Hedonism over Lunch
David writes in from Little Rock, AK: “How would you share the message of Christian Hedonism (we exist to glorify God BY enjoying Him forever) from a single passage of Scripture with a co-worker or fellow college student over a 30 minute lunch meeting? Where would you go?”
I’d go to Pizza Hut.
Oh, that is not what you meant. I would go to Philippians, first to Pizza Hut with a Bible or an iPad and a napkin and a pen to write on and I would go to Philippians 1:20–23, “Here is what it says. It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not at all be ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be magnified in my body.” So now that is one piece of what I want, because part of that statement is: God is most glorified in me when I am most satisfied in him. So here I have got Christ being magnified. That is what he wants. Christ magnified in my body whether by life or by death. And then he says, verse 21: For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain. Now I would stop right there and get my friend to talk with me about getting here. What does he mean when he says to die is gain? Tell me. What do youth think he means? And he would probably say something like, at least I would tell him this is what I think it means, Paul believes that when he dies he is going to be more satisfied than when he lives, ok? Doesn’t it say that? For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain. So if you die and it is gain, that means in the two columns of gain and loss, if you put everything that this life has to offer in one column and you put death in the other column, he says the death column is gain which means he values something on the other side of death more than he values all the stuff here. And it is more satisfying. And then you would ask: What is that? And then you read the rest of the text.
Verse 22. If I am to live in the flesh that means fruitful labor for me, yet which I shall choose, I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart, ok? Die. And be with Christ. Now there is the answer to the question: What could be gained if everything in this life is lost? And his answer is: Christ. So I would put the language of satisfaction on that. I would say: Doesn’t that mean that Paul is saying to die is gain, that is, to die means I will experience a superior satisfaction on the other side, namely, because Jesus is there, face to face, more intimate than here. And if I could get him to agree with that, then we would go back to verse 20 and get the logic. So it says: It is my eager expectation and hope that Christ will be magnified, glorified, made much of. We would linger over that for a little bit. Christ would be glorified in my body whether by death for to die is gain. And I would just say: Now talk to me about that. I am trying to get him to give me what I see here. He says Christ will be magnified by my death because to me to die is gain. And we have already said that the gain is finding Christ more satisfying than everything in this world. So wouldn’t the paraphrase be: Christ is magnified in my body when I die if I experience Christ, him dying as supremely satisfying? And then I would collapse it further and say: Doesn’t that say: Christ is magnified when I am satisfied in Christ? And I hope he would say: Well, yeah. That is what it says.
And then I would say: Here is my rose story. I take flowers to my wife. I ring the doorbell. She looks at me. I say: Happy anniversary, Noel. And she says: Oh, they are beautiful, Tony, why did you? And I say: It is my duty. And she is not happy with that answer. Instead, I run the video again. I ring the doorbell. She looks at them. Oh, Johnny, they are beautiful. Why did you? And I say: Because I can’t help it. I love buying flowers for you. In fact, I have got a plan for the evening and we are going to go out on the town, because there is nothing I would rather do than spend the evening with you. Not in a million years would she say: Nothing you would rather do than go out with me? That is all you ever think about is you, you, you, what would satisfy you, you, you, you. She would never say that. Why? Because when I say nothing would make me happier than to be with you tonight she feels honored, glorified, magnified. And the more satisfied in her I am, the more glorified she feels by me. And, therefore, we operate on this principle all day long when we are thinking clearly.
So I would go to Philippians 1:20–23 and I would tell my rose story.
At Pizza Hut.
At Pizza Hut, over a personal pan, with a Diet Coke.
Haha! Thank you Pastor John. Well, this passage in Philippians 1 appears all over everything Pastor John produces, but in another APJ episode it played an interesting role in answering the question: “Is It Selfish for Me to Pray for Joy?” That’s episode 147. Be sure to check that out. … Like David did, please email your questions in to us at askpastorjohn AT desiringgod DOT org. And visit us online at desiringgod.org to find thousands of books, articles, sermons, and other resources all free of charge from John Piper, and all intended to help explain why God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. I’m your host, Tony Reinke, well see you tomorrow.
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