Monday, April 16, 2012

Don't Waste Your Life

This is the second John Piper book I read. For some reason I left it to hibernate in my bookshelf for seven and half years after receiving it as a 21st birthday present. Perhaps it was the title which proved all-too confronting at first (although the couple who gave it to me assured me that they often give this book as a gift, and not because they particularly thought I was wasting my life).

It was this very challenging quote from the book posted by Karen last year which finally prompted me to bump this book up my reading list.

Oh, how many lives are wasted by people who believe that the Christian life means simply avoiding badness and providing for the family. So there is no adultery, no stealing, no killing, no embezzlement, no fraud – just lots of hard work during the day, and lots of TV and PG-13 videos in the evening (during quality family time), and lots of fun stuff on the weekend – woven around church (mostly). This is life for millions of people. Wasted life. We were created for more, much more…..

No-one will ever want to say to the Lord of the universe five minutes after death, I spent every night playing games and watching clean TV with my family because I loved them so much. I think the Lord will say, “That did not make me look like a treasure in your town. You should have done something besides provide for yourself and your family.”
(pages 119-120)

I had a bit of an adrenaline rush as I opened the first page. I like challenging books that aren’t afraid to pack a punch. But I was also worried that it would send me on a guilt-trip for not being an overseas missionary.

The point of the book is to encourage all Christians to make their lives count for Jesus Christ. It doesn’t say all Christians need to go and be martyred overseas, yet it doesn’t NOT say that either. Piper calls us to live our lives passionately for Jesus and his gospel (one of his ‘themes’ in all of his books seems to be to ‘make others glad in God’), and to displace leisure and pleasure as our number 1 pursuits. There is a chapter called Making Much of Christ From 8-5 for Christians in the secular workforce.  It encourages us to use our money to help those who can’t provide for their own needs, build relationships with colleagues with the purpose of spreading the gospel, and work so as not to be a burden on others. This chapter is then followed by one about missions – a passionate plea from Piper to his fellow believers to at least consider overseas mission where the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. It sounds like a contradiction, but it’s not. Whether we are on the frontline or serving in the home effort, we are still soldiers.

Is the book harsh?  Well, harsh, but honest and fair, I think.  You can’t help but feel his deep passion for the things of God as he writes. I know it would be very easy for Christians to give this book a miss…but don’t. This is what Jesus calls us to – a life lived for Him.  The thought terrifies, yet thrills me.  Have a read.  Don’t be content for a comfortable, middle-class existence like the majority of the Western world.  God will give you courage.  Let Piper’s prayer be your prayer - Let none say in the end, “I’ve wasted it!”

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