Over the next couple of days, I’m hoping to toss out some snippets of thoughts that I’ve been reflecting on lately. I’d been hoping to develop each of them more, but time has not allowed. If any of them seem interesting to you, you can develop them on your own a little more.
Our pastor has been preaching on delight as a core value of our church these past two weeks. Last night at TAG I heard from several of our people again, just how revolutionary this has been to them, to think about delighting in God–and how important that it be a core value for us!
Here are some of the things that stuck out to me as I’ve reflected on the sermons these past few weeks. I’ll give the first two today and then hopefully follow up with some more tomorrow.
Delight is Central to Conversion
Here’s how Augustine described his conversion experience:
During all those years [of rebellion], where was my free will? What was the hidden, secret place from which it was summoned in a moment, so that I might bend my neck to your easy yoke? … How sweet all at once it was for me to be rid of those fruitless joys which I had once feared to lose! … You drove them from me, you who are the true, the sovereign joy. You drove them from me and took their place, you who are sweeter than all pleasure, though not to flesh and blood, you who outshine all light, yet are hidden deeper than any secret in our hearts, you who surpass all honour, though not in the eyes of men who see all honour in themselves…. O Lord my God, my Light, my Wealth, and my Salvation’ (Confessions, trans. R.S. Pine-Coffin, 181; emphasis my own).
For Augustine, delight was the essence of God’s converting grace. Which means, then, that…
Delight Displays Grace
Augustine wrote: ‘Without exception we all long for happiness. … All agree that they want to be happy, just as, if they were asked, they would all agree that they desired joy.’ Augustine knew that the will was free–but free only insofar as it would pursue what would bring it joy. In other words, the will is bound only by this rule: it will always seek its pleasure. We all desire true happiness (which is found only in God), but our wills are unable to choose to delight in God, because that would require a change of nature; that is, a change in the object of our heart’s affections.
How can any man’s heart change? Only by God’s grace, changing his nature. Hence, ‘[s]aving grace, converting grace, in Augustine’s view, is God’s giving us a sovereign joy in God that triumphs over all other joys and therefore sways the will’ (John Piper, Legacy of Sovereign Joy, 59; emphasis original). Grace, then, is God’s active changing of our heart’s desires so that we can truly desire him above all else, freely choose him, and as we love him, find in him our true soul’s joy. Our wills are always free to choose to do those things in which we delight, but they are never free to choose what our wills will delight in. That is why we need God’s grace; and that is why delighting in God displays God’s grace.
The heart that delights in God is not a natural heart–it is a heart that has been supernaturally transformed.