I was intrigued by the title of John Piper’s book - ‘When I don’t desire God - How to fight for joy.’ Having enjoyed one of his best known works, ‘Desiring God’, I am compelled to agree with Piper that, ‘God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.’ However, after reading the blurb on the back of this book, I was gripped by the urgent question John asks, "What do you do when you discover the good news that God wants you to be content in him, but then find that you aren’t?"
As I read this book, I found myself increasingly aware that fighting for joy is a battle. Fighting for joy may seem a vague and airy fairy concept but Piper puts it so well. He describes it as a fight to see. The world screams at us to prefer its pleasures, to marvel at the media and to desire its delights.
Jesus demands for himself: ‘Prefer my light, like my fellowship, want my wisdom, run to my refuge, be glad in my grace. Above all, delight in me as a person.
Among the many excellent chapters of this book, the role that the Word and Prayer have in our fight for joy, are just two key areas in which Piper provides extremely helpful insights. As I reflected on my reading of this book, there is no doubt that for me, the most challenging point he expresses comes from his Father who passed away earlier this year. I am grateful for his words.
A few days ago I called my eighty-five-year-old father and said, “Daddy, I am writing a book on how to fight for joy. What one thing comes to your mind from sixty years of ministry as to what Christians could do to increase their joy?” Almost without hesitation he said, “Share their faith.”
In my own limited experience, there is nothing quite like the rewarding, joy-filled experience of telling someone about Jesus. John builds on his Father’s words in such a challenging way that he when I read them, they pierced deep into my heart,
Joy in Christ thrives on being shared. That is the essence of Christian joy: It overflows or dies. Millions of Christians live with a low-grade feeling of guilt for not openly commending Christ by their words. They try to persuade themselves that keeping their noses morally clean is a witness to Christ. The problem with this notion is that millions of unbelievers keep their noses morally clean. Christians will-and should-continue to feel bad for not sharing their faith.May we be those who enjoy Christ so much that talking of Him with those around us, increases our joy and brings Him glory. As we battle to love Him as our greatest treasure, may we be encouraged by this reminder,
Christ is the most glorious person in the world. His salvation is infinitely valuable. Everyone in the world needs it. Horrific consequences await those who do not believe on Jesus. By grace alone we have seen him, believed on him, and now love him. Therefore, not to speak of Christ to unbelievers, and not to care about our city or the unreached peoples of the world is so contradictory to Christ’s worth, people’s plight, and our joy that it sends the quiet message to our souls day after day, this Saviour and this salvation do not mean to you what you say they do. To maintain great joy in Christ in the face of that persistent message is impossible.
Christ is supremely glorious and supremely valuable. Therefore he is worth the fight.