Several years ago, say 2005, this may have been too much for me to handle. You could say I would have been excited. You could even say I would have been sinful in my excitement. That is, I would have been more excited by the presence of John Piper than the presence of Jesus through John Piper. As I have said before, I was in the middle of spiritual puberty. It was an awkward time. And my exposure to the teaching of John Piper at that time was significant.
Now, I can look back to those days with a small measure of maturity, and feel a great sense of gratitude to my Lord and Savior for the ministry and the person John Piper. I can look ahead with great humility and thankfulness that God would put me in a local church body, and grant that church body to be a place where he would use John Piper to speak his word with boldness and equip and encourage us to more passionately follow Jesus. God is very, very, very good.
Sometime in 2007, a little bit after those awkward times I mentioned, I remember that some people would smirk when I quoted John Piper in a small group or Bible study, and they would give me this look and seem to say, “Why does he always quote John Piper? Why is he always reading and listening to John Piper? Does he worship John Piper?”
To which I now respond: What if you went through your whole life, and upon standing face to face with King Jesus, the Creator and the Judge of the universe, you realized that no one had ever told you just how important this moment was, and just how much you would regret, even if having been saved by the skin of your teeth into eternal life, not living your life passionately for the glory of God, and instead for temporary, fleeting pleasures? Imagine if no one boldly and authoritatively had told you that illusions such as retirement, and money, and toys, and leisure, were all unbiblical and potentially devastating if not used for the glory of Jesus Christ. Imagine if you sought after all these things, not only because of evil desires to pursue your own pleasure, but also because no one had ever told you that you should ever consider fervently seeking after anything else.
Then imagine if someone came along and passionately pleaded with you, in a manner and style totally shocking to you, and with a boldness and authority totally convincing to you, that you should not waste your life but instead give it up for Christ and His Kingdom, and whatever that means for you; whether early death, or suffering, or the lack of luxurious years of retirement or a comfortable life; whatever that means for you, it will be better and more fulfilling and more satisfying and more eternal than standing on that day in front of King Jesus with regret. Wouldn't you pay attention to someone who talked like that?
I would, and I have in John Piper.
John Piper himself is but a vessel. He is like a vapor, same as you and me, who will be gone before too long. But I thank God for him, because he has shown me a picture of Jesus and a passion for Jesus, and has given me such a desire to live for Jesus that without his example, perhaps I never would have seen such a picture, or never have had such a desire. And that would have been unfortunate for me on that day when I am to give an account to my Lord and Savior, not to mention for the people that could, perhaps, be influenced the same way now through me.