“Since September 11, 2001, I have seen more clearly than ever how essential it is to exult explicitly in the excellence of Christ crucified for sinners and risen from the dead. Christ must be explicit in all our God-talk. It will not do, in this day of pluralism, to talk about the glory of God in vague ways. God without Christ is no God. And a no-God cannot save or satisfy the soul. Following a no-God—whatever his name or whatever his religion—will be a wasted life. God-in-Christ is the only true God and the only path to joy. Everything I have said so far must now be related to Christ. The old kitchen plaque comes back: ‘Only what’s done for Christ will last.’”
“Life is wasted if we do not grasp the glory of the cross, cherish the treasure that it is, and cleave to it as the highest price of every pleasure and the deepest comfort in every pain.”
“You may not be sure that you want your life to make a difference. Maybe you don’t care very much whether you make a lasting difference for the sake of something great. You just want people to like you. If people would just like being around you, you’d be satisfied. Or if you could just have a good job with a good wife, or husband, and a couple of good kids and a nice car and long weekends and a few good friends, a fun retirement, and a quick and easy death, and no hell—if you could have all that (even without God)—you would be satisfied. That is a tragedy in the making. A wasted life.”
“One of the reasons we are not as Christ-centered and cross-centered as we should be is that we have not realized that everything—everything good, and everything bad that God turns for the good of his redeemed children—was purchased by the death of Christ for us. We simply take life and breath and health and friends for granted. We think it is ours by right. But the fact is that it is not ours by right.”
“What you love determines what you feel shame about. If you love for men to make much of you, you will feel shame when they don’t. But if you love for men to make much of Christ, then you will feel shame when he is belittled on your account.”
“Death is a threat to the degree that it frustrates your main goals. Death if fearful to the degree that it threatens to rob you of what you treasure most. But Paul treasured Christ most, and his goal was to magnify Christ. And he saw death not as the frustration of that goal but as an occasion for its fulfillment.”
“…risk is woven into the fabric of our finite lives. We cannot avoid risk even if we want to. Ignorance and uncertainty about tomorrow is our native air. All of our plans for tomorrow’s activities can be shattered by a thousand unknowns whether we stay at home under the covers or ride the freeways. One of my aims is to explode the myth of safety and to somehow deliver you from the enchantment of security. Because it’s a mirage. It doesn’t exist. Every direction you turn there are unknowns and things beyond your control.”
“It is impossible to risk your life to make others glad in God if you are an unforgiving person. If you are wired to see other people’s faults and failures and offenses, and treat them roughly, you will not take risks for their joy. This wiring—and it is universal in all human beings—must be dismantled. We will not gladly risk to make people glad in God if we hate them, or hold grudges against them, or are repelled by their faults and foibles. We must become forgiving people. Don’t start raising objections about the hard cases. I am talking about a spirit, not a list of criteria for when we do this or that. Nor am I talking about wimpy grace that can’t rebuke or discipline or fight. The question is, do we lean toward mercy? Do we default to grace? Do we have a forgiving spirit? Without it we will walk away from need and waste our lives. The biblical motive for being a forgiving person may be deeper than being forgiven. It is true to say: The motive for being a forgiving person is that we have been forgiven by God when we did not deserve it. “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32). But the bottom of this motive is not God’s forgiveness, but what God’s forgiveness gives. It gives us God.”
“Television is one of the greatest life-wasters of the modern age. And, of course, the Internet is running to catch up, and may have caught up. . . . The main problem with TV is not how much smut is available, though that is a problem. Just the ads are enough to sow fertile seeds of greed and lust, no matter what program you’re watching. The greater problem is banality. A mind fed daily on TV diminishes. Your mind was made to know and love God. Its facility for this great calling is ruined by excessive TV. The content is so trivial and so shallow that the capacity of the mind to think worthy thoughts withers, and the capacity of the heart to feel deep emotions shrivels.” John Piper singles out television and Internet as great life-wasters. No one will ever say on their deathbed, “I wish I had spent more time in front of the TV or surfing the Internet.”
“Our creation in God’s image leads directly to our privilege and duty to subdue the earth and have dominion over it. In other words, we should be busy understanding and shaping and designing and using God’s creation in a way that calls attention to his worth and wakens worship. . . . This implies that part of what it means to be human is to exercise lordship over creation and give the world shape and order and design that reflects the truth and beauty of God.”
“For many of you the move toward missions and deeds of mercy will not be a move away from your work but with your work to another, more needy, less-reached part of the world. Christians should seriously ask not only what their vocation is, but where it should be lived out. We should not assume that teachers and carpenters and computer programmers and managers and CPAs and doctors and pilots should do their work in America. That very vocation may be better used in a country that is otherwise hard to get into, or in a place where poverty makes access to the Gospel difficult.”
Piper concludes the book with a prayer. Here is a portion of that prayer:
“O God, you know I tremble now for fear that many of the ones who call you Lord have made themselves the prize and glory of your grace. How many, Lord, have made your love a witness to their worth! Is then their joy a resting in your worth or in their own? So many decades have gone by in which the constant message from the world, and even from some ministers, is this: that love means making much of man. And so when men, with this assurance, ponder what your love might mean, they say the same: God’s love means making much of man. For proof they ask: Don’t you feel loved when someone calls attention to your worth?
I answer: Once I did. When life was better than the Lord, and not the other way around. There was a time love felt like this—when I could not conceive of any joy greater than the honor of my name. When I was so absorbed in me that it was inconceivable for joy to rise by my admiring rather than my being admired. Oh, yes, I’ve known what it is like to call the praise of men an act of love and justify this craving with the readiness to give the same. How satisfying it does seem—this love among ourselves of mutual admiration!
… How could I stand before the setting sun, between the mountain range and the vastness of the sea, and think that everlasting joy should come from making much of me?
No, Father, love is this: At great expense you made yourself my glory and my boast. The cost was infinite by which you made yourself the Treasure of my life. You sent your Son, the blazing center of your beauty and your love. You gave him up to mockery, betrayal, thorns, the whip, the rod, the fists, the nails, the shame, and death. For what? To swallow up your wrath, and satisfy your righteousness, and bury all my sins as far as east is from the west and in the deepest sea, so that I might come home and see the galaxy. This is your love, O God, not to make much of me, but do whatever must be done so that I waken to the joy of making much of you through all eternity.”