John Piper, the founder of desiringGod.org, concludes his book ‘don’t waste your life’ with a passionate prayer:
Forbid that any, Lord, who read these words would have to say someday, “I’ve wasted it.” But grant, by your almighty Spirit and your piercing Word, that we who name Christ as the Lord would treasure him above our lives, and feel, deep in our souls, that Christ is life and death is gain. And so may we display his worth for all to see. And by our prizing him may he be praised in all the world. May he be magnified in life and death. May every neighbourhood and nation see how joy in Jesus frees people from the power of greed and fear.
These words encapsulate the heart of the book. A book which, in true Piper style, is direct, passionate, scripture-based and challenging for young and old alike. Here are just three reasons why ‘don’t waste your life’ should have a reserved spot in the pastor’s library, be a ‘go-to’ youth pastor’s teaching resource, and sit on the bedside table of any parent who is struggling to see the sacred in their 8-5.
DON’T WASTE YOUR LIFE
Piper’s cry of ‘don’t waste your life’, carries a stern warning that we (Christian and non-Christian alike) are all at risk of pursuing the significance of man and not the greatness of God. Piper writes, “God created us with a single passion to joyfully display his supreme excellence in all the spheres of life. The wasted life is a life without this passion. God calls us to pray and think and dream and plan and work not to be made much of, but to make much of him in every part of our lives.”
And every part of our lives, includes (according to Piper), pain and suffering. Instinctively, we put a lot of time, energy and money towards the prevention of pain and suffering, offering prayers of ‘Lord, get me out of this’, but Piper leaning on the teaching of Paul reminds us that “Jesus said to Paul in pain – and to all of us who treasure him more than pain free living, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:8). Piper does qualify his thinking by saying that it’s not wrong to pray for healing, to take medicine, to put locks on our doors but it is God who finally decides whether and when the path of obedience will lead to suffering.
Piper’s teaching on magnifying Christ through pain and death, and the subsequent chapter on the importance of risk, are rich soil for any pastors Sunday teaching plan.
A PLEA TO THIS GENERATION
When you think of one of the annual Passion gatherings, imagine a stadium filled with 18-25 year-olds. And when you consider the type of preaching or the style of preacher which would ‘fit’ the high energy atmosphere, it is hard to place 74-year-old John Piper, with his ‘stand and deliver’ approach, in that environment. That is until you read about his passion for mission.
Walking us through the birth of the student volunteer movement in America, while directing us to relevant scriptures, Piper exclaims, “We will not know God fully in his majesty until we know him moving triumphantly among the nations.” As others have testified before, mission is the life blood of the church, and mission, laden with adventure, risk, and the raw power of the Gospel, will always resonate with a younger generation.
After reading Piper’s words, any youth pastor will feel the challenge (and rightfully so) of establishing a culture of mission within their ministry.
MAKING MUCH OF CHRIST 8-5
‘Don’t waste your life’ is intensely practical with Piper guiding us through six ways to make much of Jesus by…
- The fellowship we enjoy with God throughout our day.
- Relying on Jesus’ power and consciously shaping the world after his excellence.
- Removing any obstacles to the Gospel through our example.
- Earning enough money to look after ourselves and focusing not on financial reward but our contribution to society.
- Using our money to meet the needs of others in the name of Jesus.
- Treating our network of relationships as a gift of God to be loved.
ONLY ONE LIFE
Piper shares that one of the motivators behind his quest to answer the question, ‘What would it mean to waste your life?’, was in the form of plaque that hung above the sink in his childhood home. It read:
Only one life,
‘Twill soon be past;
Only what’s done
for Christ will last.
To the left beside these words, was a painted green hill with two trees and a brown path that disappeared over the hill. How many times, as a little boy, and then as a teenager with pimples and longings and anxieties, I looked at that brown path (my life) and wondered what would be over that hill. The message was clear. You get one pass at life. That’s all. Only one. And the lasting measure of that life is Jesus Christ.
You can purchase your copy of ‘don’t waste your life’ here