Pastor John, what is this ministry we call Desiring God all about? What drives us? What’s at the center of what you — and us as a ministry at large — are seeking to tell the world?
One of the things desiring God was started to spread and to communicate, to build into people’s lives was the truth: God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. That is probably as close to the center of what we are about as anything. But it didn’t come out of nowhere. Here is where it comes from. This is so crucial for people to see. God is radically God centered in the Bible. God is radically God exalting. And that is all over the Bible. He created us in his image. He put seven billion images of himself in the world. Why would a person put seven billion images of himself in a city? Well, he wants to get attention for himself. So God is radically self exalting in creating us in his image. And he says in Isaiah 43: I have created you for my glory to display my character, my power, my wisdom, my justice, my truthfulness.
And so the question, then, always is: If God is that radically God exalting, how is not an egomaniac or how is he not a megalomaniac? How is he not using us instead of loving us? That is the key question. And that is where this slogan comes from, namely, God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him, because the answer to the question of whether God is an egomaniac or not is whether his self-exaltation is at the same time a satisfaction of our souls. And that is, in fact, what the Bible says. The reason God in exalting himself is not an egomaniac, is because he is exalting the very thing that satisfies my soul, namely his beauty, his glory, his character. And—and this is the most amazing part and where I am going with the text in just a minute—is that he is exalted in my enjoying him, in my being satisfied in him.
And I always tell the rose story, about bringing the roses to Noelle and she says, “Oh, I did you.” And I say, “It is my duty.” And people laugh and say that is not the right answer for why you are bringing your wife roses on your anniversary. The right answer is: I couldn’t help myself, Noel. I love doing things for you. Nothing makes me happier than for me to spend an evening with you. And she doesn’t respond by saying: You are so selfish all you ever think about is yourself, because you said nothing ever makes you happier than to spend the evening with me. She doesn’t respond like that, because she knows when I enjoy her she is honored. And that is exactly the way it is with God. So God is most glorified... I could say at that moment: Noel is most honored by me when I am most satisfied in her this evening. And I say it on Sunday morning. God is most glorified in me when I am most satisfied in him.
Now what I am always on the lookout for, Tony, is texts that more or less make that explicit. And here is one I haven’t used before. I was reading this recently in 2 Corinthians chapter 12 where Paul has this thorn in the flesh and he pleads three times for God to take it away and God says, Jesus says to Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9: My grace is sufficient for you and my power is made perfect in weakness. My power is glorified and magnified and beautified and made perfect in witness. And then Paul says: Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weakness so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Now doesn’t that say if I can be glad in the midst of my thorn, in the midst of my weakness or my hardship, then Christ will be magnified in me? And that is exactly what I am trying to say in Christian hedonism and at desiring God. We exist to proclaim that Christ is most magnified in me when I am most satisfied in him. And then he says it, I think, almost explicit. He says in verse 10: “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses.”
So “content” means satisfied and peaceful. So I am so content and so satisfied in the grace that he says is sufficient for me that I am now for his sake displaying his glory. So I think the structure of Paul’s thought in verses nine and 10 of second Corinthians is exactly what we are trying to say at desiring God. God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. And this is the key for how God can be so God exalting and yet a God of love, because he is as committed to my being satisfied in him as he is to his being glorified in me which is simply amazing.
Yes, that is simply amazing. Thank you Pastor John. And thank you for listening to the podcast. Email your questions to us at askpastorjohn AT desiringgod DOT org. Visit us online at desiringgod DOT org to find thousands of books, articles, sermons, and other resources free of charge from John Piper to help explain why God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. … I’m your host, Tony Reinke. Thanks for listening.