The first book I read this year was The Things of Earth by Joe Rigney. The book is going to probably in the top five of my lifetime reads when I gauge how reading a book has shaped the way I view and live in this world daily as a follower of Jesus Christ. Desiring God by John Piper, Heaven by Randy Alcorn, Just Do Something by Kevin DeYoung, and Bloodlines by John Piper are currently the other four.
Just going through my highlights in the book make me overwhelmed with wanting to wrap my head more around what is in it. Rigney covers a lot of topics (the trinity and sovereignty of God vs. free will just to name two topics) but each of them is used to build on the other and make the point that we are meant to enjoy God by treasuring his gifts. Chapter 4 and 5 were the home runs for me. They were the chapters that fundamentally changed the way I think.
I highlighted the major points through the chapter so that I could go back and more quickly read his arguments. My brain forgets quickly, so for the sake of repetition, I’m going to write out what I highlighted. Maybe you can benefit from getting a quicker overview here, but you’d serve yourself well to buy the book and read it from front to back; then read it again.
“Here is the fundamental challenge: if we believe that we should value things according to their value, and if we know that God has infinite value and everything else has finite value, then we begin to feel that, if we are to be faithful Christians, there must be an infinite gap between our love for God and our love for everything else. Our enjoyment of God must infinitely surpass our joy in his gifts (in our family, for example)(Pg. 89).”
“A subtle sense of guilt arises because we know that our joy in Christ (however great it may be) is not infinitely greater than our joy in our family (Pg. 90).”
“Now there are a number of false and unbiblical notions in this application of the principle of proportionate regard. The first is viewing love for God and love for creation exclusively in comparative terms. Might there be another way to relate to God and creation? (Pg. 90).”
“One of the primary aims of this book is to put to death all false guilt flowing from our existence as creatures…finitude and limitations are not defects; they are designed. Meeting needs and giving joy through creation was God’s idea, and despite the ways that we’ve misused and abused his good gifts, he hasn’t rescinded the offer or the gifts (Pg. 90).”
“To love God supremely is to love him above all else, to place him at the pinnacle of our affections…To love God fully is to max out our capacity with love for him. Whatever capacity we have to love, be it with heart, soul, mind or strength, we should give God our all…Finite creatures are naturally incapable of loving God infinitely. But we do have the natural ability to love him supremely and love him fully (Pg. 91).”
“The Great Commandment (Love God fully) leads straight into the second greatest: love your neighbor as yourself…love for neighbor is not at odds with full love for God…I believe this principle can be extended beyond neighbors to every other good thing that God provides. What does full and supreme love for God look like when it meets one of his gifts? Glad reception and enjoyment of his gifts (Pg. 92).”
“This is what it means to be a creature: finite, temporal, limited, but very good, with needs met both directly by God and through the manifold gifts that he supplies. We are God’s priests, his kings (and queens), and his prophets, and he has lavished us with gifts beyond our imagining, both for our glad-hearted enjoyment and for the fulfillment of his great and glorious mission. We are valuable because God values us, and we ought to value him according to his value. Nevertheless, we banish every form of false guilt that condemns us for being creatures and for failing to love God infinitely. Instead, our love for God should be supreme, full, and expanding forever (Pg. 94).”
Chapter 5 will be next.