John Piper is good at great titles for his books: Desiring God, Let the Nations be Glad, The Pleasures of God, What Jesus Demands from the World, or my favorite: Don't Waste Your Life. But for the average person, without a seminary degree, these are difficult books to pick up. The truth in them is foundational and crucial to our faith: and yet the first few chapters consistently fail to hook.
In reading The Pleasures of God I discovered why this is. John Piper jumps straight in. No introductions that are 'lighter' than the rest of the book, no, Piper immediately jumps into his writing. It is full of passion and it is even beautiful writing, but because it is so incredibly deep from the get-go, it can be off-putting. Rather than a failing of his writing however, I'd mark this a failing of our society. In either case, I discovered that The Pleasures of God is well, well worth the read.
This book sums up one of the core tenets of our faith: God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. It is perhaps the single sentence around which Piper's ministry has revolved, and he explains it fully in this book. This is not a feel-good book, but it is a deeply necessary one, as it explains how we can best glorify God, which is, after all, why we are here on earth. Piper begins with four chapters on God's glory, and how God is glorified in himself. These provide the foundation from which he explains how we, feeble as we are, can glorify such an awesome and enormous God.
God's glory is like a mountain spring, Piper writes. We do not lug buckets of water up to the spring to fill it up. That is not how God is glorified. Instead, when we drink deeply of the fresh, cool, clear spring water, we are fulfilling the purpose of the fountain. So too, when we drink deeply of God's grace in our lives, we are using the true purpose God created us for.
This book is beautifully deep. And yet, once you're immersed in it, it isn't hard to understand. I recommend long reading chunks for this book: hours at a time, rather than minutes. It's worth it, it really is. I cam to really enjoy Piper's poetic side, something I'd never seen before. This is a book written by a man who has drunk deeply of God's fountain, and it is clearly visible.
Usually a good book whets my appetite for more books by that author. But a great book whets my appetite for God, and a desire to deepen my relationship with him. The Pleasures of God is a truly great book. Since reading it, I have dived deeper into God's word and my relationship with him. It has made me desire a deeper and closer relationship to God. I highly recommend it to anyone for exactly this same reason.
Don't be afraid if the first chapter — or even the first two — don't grab you. This isn't a thriller that will grab you. But the truth contained in it will grab you. Give it time. Read this book slowly and carefully. Reread it. The Pleasures of God is asolutely worth your time.
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