John Piper on Corporate Worship and Christian Hedonism
John Piper wrote another powerful statement in his book The Dangerous Duty of Delight. He discussed on corporate worship. I can’t help but post another quote. Here it is:
Consider three implications for corporate worship.
First, the true diagnosis of weak worship is not that our people are coming to get and not to give. Not a few pastors scold their people that their worship services would be lively if people came to give instead of to get. There is a better diagnosis.
People ought to come to corporate worship services to get. They ought to come starved for God. They ought to come saying, “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God” (Psalm 42:1). God is profoundly honored when people know that they will die of hunger and thirst unless they have God. And it is my job as a preacher to spread a banquet for them. I must show them from Scripture what they are really starving for—God—and then feed them well until they say, “Ahhh.” That is worship.
Second, seeing the essence of worship as satisfaction of God will make corporate worship radically God-centered.
Nothing makes God more supreme and more central than when people are utterly persuaded that nothing—not money or prestige or leisure or family or job or health or sports or toys or friends—is going to bring satisfaction to their aching hearts besides God. The conviction breeds people who go hard after God on Sunday morning.
If the focus shifts onto our giving to God, instead of His giving Himself to us, one result is that subtly it is not God who remains at the center but, instead, the quality of our giving. Are we singing worthily of the Lord? Are our instrumentalists playing with quality fitting a gift to the Lord? Is the preaching a suitable offering to the Lord? This all sounds noble at first. But little by little the focus shifts off the utter indispensability of the Lord Himself and onto the quality of our performances. And we even start to define excellence and power in worship in terms of the technical distinction of our artistic acts.
Nothing keeps God at the center of worship like the biblical conviction that the essence of worship is deep, heartfelt satisfaction in Him and the conviction that the pursuit of that satisfaction is why we are together.
Third, Christian Hedonism protects the primacy of worship by forcing us to see that the essential heart-act of worship is an end in itself.
If the essence of worship is satisfaction in God, then worship can’t be a means to anything else. You simply can’t say to God, “I want to be satisfied in You so that I can have something else.” Because that would mean that you are not really satisfied in God but in that something else. And that would dishonor God, not worship Him.
But in fact, for many people and pastors, the event of “worship” on Sunday morning is conceived of as a means to accomplish something other than worship. We “worship” to raise money; we “worship” to attract crowds; we “worship” to heal human hurts; we “worship” to recruit workers; we “worship” to improve church morale; we “worship” to give talented musicians an opportunity to fulfill their calling; we “worship” to teach our children the way of righteousness; we “worship” to help marriages stay together; we “worship” to evangelize the lost among us; we “worship” to give our churches a family feeling, etc., etc.
In all of this we belittle worship and God. Genuine affections for God are an end in themselves…1.
1John Piper-John Piper, The Dangerous Duty of Delight (Colorado Springs, Co.: Multnomah Books, 2001), 56-58.