When I first read a book from John Piper, I didn’t like it or understand it. That book was Desiring God. I really didn’t like the idea of “Christian hedonism.” I really wondered about his thesis – “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.” His logic and reasoning didn’t compute with me at all.
Then, I had the opportunity to hear him speak while I was living in California in 2001. I enjoyed his passionate preaching and obvious love for the name of God and His glory, but I still wasn’t quite “on board” with his explanation(s) for the purpose of suffering.
And while I was busy thinking of reasons NOT to like John Piper, everyone around me seemed to be jumping on the Piper bandwagon. Most notably, during those years my sister and brother-in-law were “eating up” everything he was writing and saying.
So, because I respect both of them, I reached out to my sister and said, “I don’t get it. What am I missing? Explain this Piper-fellow to me.” Her advice was simple and life-changing. My sister told me that in order to understand and better appreciate Piper, she found it helpful to read everything he had written. “Just keep reading him”, she said. She told me the thesis of Desiring God was in every book and the more I read how it applies to different areas of life, the more I would understand it. (Ironically, Piper said himself in a sermon one time that if you just read Desiring God, you will have read everything else I have written!)
So I took her advice. And while I don’t agree with every iota of speech that comes out of John Piper’s mouth, I have a deep affection and appreciation for him today that I never would have had if my sister hadn’t said what she said.
His opening paragraph in Let the Nations Be Glad completely changed my view of missions.
His book Brothers, We Are Not Professionals gave me hope that a simple-minded man who loves the church and feels call to serve can do it without the “glitz and glamour” of others.
His book Don’t Waste Your Life is a book I find myself recommending to young people more than any other book.
His contributions in Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood helped shape my love for the family and my role within it.
His series of biographies called The Swans Are Not Silent gave be an infectious desire to know the men and women who came before me and emulate them in any way I can.
His devotional book Fifty Reasons Jesus Came to Die is an annual pilgrimage I read every Spring to prepare me for Easter Sunday.
His book A Godward Life sits closest to me on my desk at church and is referred to more often than any other book he has written.
John Piper has made a deep imprint on my life. And when he speaks or writes, I want to listen and read.
Happy BD, John Piper!