“Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live.”
~Isaiah 55:1-3 (NRSV)
“Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty’.”
~John 6:35 (NRSV)
“... conversion to Christ is what happens when Christ becomes for you a treasure chest of holy joy.”
~John Piper (1983)
The greatest favour, unto the receipt of every redemptive blessing, any professing Christian can do for themselves, is ask, frequently, questions such as these:
þ Do I really delight myself in the Lord?
þ What are the symptoms, from within, and the signs, from without, that assure me of my answer to the first question?
Symptoms And Signs Of Holy Joy
In medical terms, symptoms are reported by patients and are, hence, felt within. And signs are those things the doctor or nursing staff might easily observe from without the person.
As we answer those key questions above, as the self-assessment of our spiritual fervency for God, we need to look for both things.
From within we are looking for attitudinal evidence of: a sense of knowledge of God’s will in situations; constant Divine dialogue; and, continual sight of the plight of humanity and the mercifulness of God in the world.
From without we are looking for behavioural evidence of: active signs our hearts are convicted enough to act; at least a handful of recent examples, as we reflect, of mindful good works; and, a foundation of prayer to God for action opportunities where our obedience would come to the fore.
If these symptoms and signs do prevail in our lives there is good reason to feel we are living the converted life under the Lordship of Christ—salvation is and never was a once-off reality. True conversion happens one day at a time.
Going Only To God For Reward
In a message on Christian hedonism—from the series Desiring God—John Piper makes the impassioned point: we are to be pleased, first and foremost, by holy allegiance to the Lord—to the Almighty God we go for any and all reward. He is to be our pleasure!
This surely runs against the grain of our humanity, and God knows it. This is why conversion could never be an event, unless by a series of events experienced continually through life; our fervour for God tends to ebb and flow; we were always destined to need to reconnect.
If the Lord truly is our treasure chest of holy joy we shall satisfy ourselves in no other reward than him; having not nearly enough gratitude to give, we do give what we have, and we are pleased to do this.
We have nothing to give God apart from our gratitude: Christ is our reward—he, alone, is our bread and drink of life. He is our treasure chest of holy joy.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.