Maximizing our joy in God is what we were created for. “But wait a minute,” someone says, “what about the glory of God? Didn’t God create us for His glory? But here you are saying that He created us to pursue our joy!” Which is it? Are we created for His glory or our joy?
Oh how passionately I agree that God created us for His glory! Yes! Yes! God is the most God-centered person in the universe. This is the heartbeat of everything I preach and write. This is what Christian Hedonism is designed to preserve and pursue! God’s chief end is to glorify God. This is written all over the Bible. It is the aim of all God does.
God’s goal at every stage of creation and salvation is to magnify His glory. You can magnify with a microscope or with a telescope. A microscope magnifies by making tiny things look bigger than they are. A telescope magnifies by making gigantic things (like stars), which look tiny, appear more as they really are. God created the universe to magnify His glory the way a telescope magnifies stars. Everything He does in our salvation is designed to magnify the glory of His grace like this.
Take, for example, some of the steps of our salvation: predestination, creation, incarnation, propitiation, sanctification, and consummation. At every step the Bible says God is doing these things, through Jesus Christ, to display and magnify His glory.
- Predestination: “He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace” (Ephesians 1:5–6).
- Creation: “Bring My sons from afar and My daughters from the ends of the earth, everyone who is called by My name, and whom I have created for My glory” (Isaiah 43:6–7).
- Incarnation: “Christ has become a servant to the circumcision on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the fathers, and for the Gentiles to glorify God for His mercy” (Romans 15:8–9).
- Propitiation:14 “God displayed [Christ] publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed” (Romans 3:25).
- Sanctification: “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more … having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:9, 11).
- Consummation: “[Those who do not obey the gospel] will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed” (2 Thessalonians 1:9–10).
So I could not agree more with the person who says, “God created us and saves us for His glory!”
“Well, then,” my friend asks, “how can you say that the aim of life is to maximize our joy? Didn’t God create us to share His ultimate aim—to glorify Himself? Which is it? Are we created for His glory or for our joy?”
Here we are at the heart of Christian Hedonism! If you get anything, get this. I learned it from Jonathan Edwards, C. S. Lewis, and, most importantly, from the apostle Paul.
Edwards was the greatest pastor-theologian that America has ever produced. He wrote a book in 1755 called The End for Which God Created the World. The foundation and aim of that book is the following stunning insight. It is the deepest basis of Christian Hedonism. Read this old-fashioned English slowly to see Edwards’s brilliant resolution.
God is glorified not only by His glory’s being seen, but by its being rejoiced in. When those that see it delight in it, God is more glorified than if they only see it. His glory is then received by the whole soul, both by the understanding and by the heart. God made the world that He might communicate, and the creature receive, His glory; and that it might [be] received both by the mind and heart. He that testifies his idea of God’s glory [doesn’t] glorify God so much as he that testifies also his … delight in it.15
This is the solution. Did God create you for His glory or for your joy? Answer: He created you so that you might spend eternity glorifying Him by enjoying Him forever. In other words, you do not have to choose between glorifying God and enjoying God. Indeed you dare not choose. If you forsake one, you lose the other. Edwards is absolutely right: “God is glorified not only by His glory’s being seen, but by its being rejoiced in.” If we do not rejoice in God, we do not glorify God as we ought.
Here is the rock-solid foundation of Christian Hedonism: God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.
Piper, John. 2001. The Dangerous Duty of Delight. Sisters, OR: Multnomah Publishers.
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