John Piper on thinking, and loving God
John Piper helps me realise how great God is: reading him makes me conscious of how often my centre of gravity is in the wrong place. How about this to challenge how we mostly think and act:
“The task of all Christian scholarship – not just biblical studies – is to study reality as a manifestation of God’s glory, to speak and write about it with accuracy, and to savour the beauty of God in it, and to make it serve the good of man. It is an abdication of scholarship when Christians do academic work with little reference to God. If all the universe and everything in it exist by the design of an infinite, personal God, to make his manifold glory known and loved, then to treat any subject without reference to God’s glory is not scholarship but insurrection.” (168)Can you sense the passion which shapes his way of thinking, a logic that is hot with love for God? It has been so helpful to me to learn from this in several of his books, I’m grateful that he helped me to come to the conviction that when I follow a train of thought that leads to a conclusion which lessens God’s greatness, I must have been going in the wrong direction. Here’s another dose: if you’re a Christian, why do you love Jesus?
“It looks as though it is possible to “receive Christ” and not have him for what he is. One way to describe this is to say that when these people “receive Christ,” they do not receive him as supremely valuable. They receive him simply as sin-forgiver (because they love being guilt-free), and as rescuer-from-hell (because they love being pain-free), and as healer (because they love being disease-free), and as protector (because they love being safe), and as prosperity-giver (because they love being wealthy), and as creator (because they want a personal universe), and as Lord of history (because they want order and purpose). But they don’t receive him as supremely and personally valuable for who he is. They don’t receive him the way Paul did when he spoke of “the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” They don’t receive him as he really is – more glorious, more beautiful, more wonderful, more satisfying, than everything else in the universe. They don’t prize him or treasure him or cherish him or delight in him.” (71-72)It’s as if he’s taken hold of me by the shoulders and is lovingly shaking me and saying, ‘Do you get this, do you see the wonder and beauty and glory of Christ – every day?’
The above quotes are from a book of Piper’s that I’ve just finished called Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God (IVP, 2010). After being challenged recently about my awareness of God’s presence, I’m now also wrestling with how I think about Him and for Him. They are, of course, related.
Piper’s conviction of the importance of thinking, and awareness of its limits, come from two key texts: Proverbs 2:3-6 and 2 Timothy 2:7, both of which emphasise that my role in this is important but God’s is decisive. This gives us hope and a serious charge:
“The willingness of God to give us understanding is the ground of our thinking, not the substitute for it.” (65)
“If we don’t choose to think harder, we will settle for an adolescent level of understanding the rest of our lives.” (48)
“I would like to encourage you to think, but not to be too impressed with yourself when you do.” (17)If you struggle with the idea of objective truth, or you feel your mind isn’t as engaged with God as it could be, or you just want to spend time with someone who loves God, Think is the book for you.