Are you ever tempted to think that what you do, day after day, is not useful enough? Or maybe that what you have done with your gift of salvation isn’t significant enough? Perhaps reading Don’t Waste Your Life causes you to give in to this temptation; the book might seem to be aimed at the young, the able, the talented, the brave or the risk-takers – the ones who can and will make a difference.
Certainly, some of the language John Piper uses sounds very heroic – not the stuff of everyday, humdrum life. When I’m up to my elbows in housework, or burdened with a ‘to-do’ list that only seems to get bigger, what do I do with the following statement? How does it apply to where I am right now?
But whatever you do, find the God-centered, Christ-exalting, Bible-saturated passion of your life, and find your way to say it and live for it and die for it. And you will make a difference that lasts. You will not waste your life. (p 47)It’s an inspiring and motivating way to talk. But how do I find this passion? What if I’m frail or weak, or I’m tied-down with responsibilities I cannot control? What if I find the God-centered, Christ-exalting, Bible-saturated passion of my life and I give it my all, but it doesn’t seem to result in a difference that lasts? Will I have I wasted my life?
This is when it’s good to consider the context of what Piper says – the context of the whole book and Piper’s own passion. If you’ve read anything else written by John Piper, or heard any of his sermons, it is as obvious as the nose on your face that this man is gripped by a genuine, consistent and compelling passion: that God would be glorified and that people everywhere would find their delight in God. In a way his book Desiring God – now a Christian classic – established a theme by expounding the driving passion of Piper’s life. And in a way, Don’t Waste Your Life is a variation on that theme; the theme is still there, it’s just presented in a different way. But I think that’s what’s so infectious and convincing about John Piper: he really does live and breathe the all-consuming passion he writes about. He can’t help himself!
In Don’t Waste Your Life Piper is urging us to be single-minded in the way we live as Christians, for to be anything else is to waste the gift of life. He is backing up the apostle James who warns us not to be in two minds and doubt God. Instead James urges us to be single-minded in trusting God and drawing near to him in humble repentance (James 1:6-8; 4:8-10). Jesus himself warns us that it is not possible to have divided loyalties and serve two masters, for we will love one and hate the other (Luke 16:13). Or as Piper puts it, to follow Jesus we need to have a God-centered, Christ-exalting, Bible-saturated passion which we live and die for, and this is the only way not to waste the gift of eternal life which is ours through Jesus. I think the difference it makes is firmly in God’s hands. Do we trust him for that, or not?