Feeling Good About Christ’s Gifts Instead of his Person

How easy it is to become so desirous of good things that they even eclipse the good God who gives them.  John Piper tells a challenging story:

What is it for God to love and for us to be loved by him?  What is it for us to love God and love other people?  This is right at the heart of biblical counseling, isn’t it?  A sense of being loved, helping people to be come loving people, and understanding how God loves us – sinners that we are.

For many years I have been trying to figure out how God’s pursuit of His glory relates to His love for you and me.  What I find gets clearer every year, and in recent months has gotten even clearer.  For example, a woman came up to me after church, weeping her eyes out in distress over the problems in her life.  At one point in our conversation I asked her, “If you were in a place where you had your family, perfect health, all your favorite foods, and all your favorite recreation, and you didn’t have to feel guilty, would you still want to be there if Jesus wasn’t there?  She cried out, “Yes!”  That is where a lot of professing Christians are.  The gifts of Christ are what they feel good about, not Christ.  Forgiveness feels good, getting rid of guilt feels good, staying out of hell feels good, having a marriage work feels good, having kids stay off drugs feels good, and having the body made well feels good.  Frankly, Jesus can take a vacation.  Just give me these things.

John Piper and Jack Delk, “The Glory of God: The Goal of Biblical Counseling,” in Christ-Centered Biblical Counseling. Pgs. 29-30.

This reminds me of Jesus’ words in Luke 12:29-32:

And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you. Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

Though God is mindful of our need for the essentials of life, he is also cultivating in us a satisfaction in his plan to give us the kingdom, such that the glory of the coming new creation radically reorients us as we face the trials and afflictions of this present age.

R. Andrew Compton
Christ Reformed Church (URCNA)
Anaheim, CA