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John Piper’s book on missions (part 1)

As promised, I tracked down “Let The Nations Be Glad!” by John Piper, read it, thought (preliminarily) about it, and am here to convey a rundown of the book. This post will be dedicated solely to the first chapter, that being one of the three that most stuck in my mind.

Sure enough, his statement that “missions exists because worship doesn’t” appears on the very first page of the very first chapter! (It’s the third sentence of the book.) So, he says, “worship is the fuel and goal of missions”: goal because, well, what’s better than worshiping God? And fuel, because as Piper writes, “you can’t commend what you don’t cherish”—so a Christian has to worship God with his life before he can convey that passion to others (the unreached).

The bulk of that first chapter is spent fleshing out what it means to make worship the central goal of all of life, and why in the world God would be so selfish as to ask that every soul in the world spend its energy glorifying God. (Trust me, it’s the best thing that could happen to you. Piper agrees with me, or rather I with him.) I know many people would struggle with the idea that the whole purpose of man is to glorify God and with the idea that it’s not wrong of God to seek his own glory all the time, but it’s something I’ve already understood for several years, so I’ll skip over most of the explaining he does there. I did appreciate, however, the five solid pages filled only with quotes from the Bible illustrating God’s focus on doing things “for My [that would be his] name’s sake.”

At the end of that first chapter, Piper writes about something I’ve rather wondered about for some time: how one cultivates a “love for the lost.” You see, I never did get that idea—what is it, that someone feels toward a nebulous concept such as “the lost”? Piper quotes a YWAM leader:

….Many believers search their hearts in condemnation, looking for the arrival of some feeling of benevolence that will propel them into bold evangelism. It will never happen. It is impossible to love “the lost.” You can’t feel deeply for an abstraction or a concept….

Piper adds his own caveat to that, but it is encouraging to know that I’m not the only person who doesn’t generally feel warm fuzzies toward a lot of faceless entities. Not that I don’t believe strongly that unreached people need to hear the Gospel—far from it. Just, I don’t get the feelings sometimes associated with the words “love for the lost.” It’s more a decision than an emotion, for me at least.

Next up: notes on the next couple of chapters regarding the supremacy of God in missions through prayer and suffering. Heady stuff.

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