How Does Christian Hedonism Relate to Evangelism? - Desiring God - Week of 7/30
How Does Christian Hedonism Relate to Evangelism?
by John Piper
One of the basic premises of Christian Hedonism is that the joy which is our Christian duty to pursue does not reach its climax in a private communion with God. Rather, it reaches its fullest extent only when it is compounded by the joy of seeing others share in it with us. And these are not two different joys as if the good of man were somehow in competition with the glory of God. The sharing of a joy is that same joy in consummation.
Evangelism is a word used to describe the different ways God uses us, along with His Word and Spirit, to transform unbelievers into people whose great delight in life is to know and trust in him. Therefore, under God, our goal in evangelism is to be his instruments in creating new people who delight in God through Jesus Christ and who thus bring us great joy. There is no escape: if we, by God's grace, are successful in evangelism we will be happier. Our joy in God will be increased. Does this imply that we are only out to get notches on our fishing pole that we can boast about without really caring for the other person's good? No! It is that person's infinite and eternal welfare that makes us happy. The only boasting we care for is in the glorious grace of God. He is at work in us and in the new convert to make us gradually into the kind of people who love God more and who, therefore, will inevitably make each other glad.
Do we not admire people who have the virtues we value most? And is not admiration a tremendous pleasure? (Witness how people love to cheer and talk about their heroes). Can you not then feel a desire kindling in your heart for God to use you to create out of unbelievers people who have the virtue you value the most—a joyful trust in God? It is a tragic thing to let so many people go on without admiring God. We could be enjoying their worship of God instead of lamenting the dishonor they do to him.
So evangelism is not necessarily aimed at people we like; it is aimed to create people we like—people we admire for their love of God. Evangelism is done in the hope of creating new people whom it will be a pleasure to be with because they admire most the one we admire most. There is every reason for a Christian Hedonist to bear witness to his faith and thus be like the Apostle John in his first letter, who said, "we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete" (1 John 1:4).