John Piper's Living in the Light was a short and simple book about money, sex, and power. More precisely, it was a book about God's glory. Though money, sex, and power can be like an iceberg ready to sink the ship of our souls, Piper says, "they may be floating islands of food when the stores of our ship have run out, or fuel when we are stalled in the water, or the rarest fruit to sweeten our dreary sailing diet." How did we go so wrong? We have all exchanged the glory of God for other things. This focus makes Living in the Light such a great book for those seeking a deeper understanding of sin, especially in those areas. The opening chapter ends with a powerful heart check: "We can have a heart that treasures this world above God, or a heart that treasures God above this world. And thus we can glorify God as all-satisfying, or defame him as inferior to the things he has made. We can live in the light, or in the darkness."
Piper defines sex as: "experiencing erotic stimulation, seeking to get the experience, or seeking to give the experience." The first area that our sinful depravity impacts is human sexuality (Romans 1 seems eerily familiar to our day). Abusing God's gift of sex ultimately causes us to prefer the gift more than the Giver. He defines money as "some kind of currency" which can be used to pursue something you want by using it, giving it, or spending it. The first and last commandments refer to keeping God at the center of one's life, not our possessions or others' possessions. Money always fails those who have hope in it. Power is defined as "the capacity to get what you want, or the capacity to pursue what you value." Piper uses the image of a saw which can be used to either cut firewood or to deface an heirloom. Each of these gifts— money, sex, and power— are dangerous because they are often used to exchange the glory of God for less glorious things.
What is the remedy for our sinful, God-dishonoring uses of sex, money, and power? It is clearly found in the gospel. We must "wake up to the all-satisfying glory of God." Piper uses a great analogy of the solar system to describe how we should view money, sex, and power. Without the gravitational pull of the sun (God), the planets (money, sex, and power) would fly "wildly and dangerously out of orbit." The gospel places God at the center of our lives through Christ's justification (our guilt removed through Christ's death on the cross), the Spirit's regeneration (being resurrected to new life), and sanctification (beholding and conforming to the image and glory of Christ).
The gospel transforms us to view sex, money, and power the way Jesus did — even in the midst of a world which parades them in such sinful ways. This is what it means to be living in the light. I would highly recommend this book for counseling, discipleship, or just a primer on issues related to the many abuses of money, sex, and power in our society and our churches. Living In The Light is a powerful reminder of the darkness in the world around us and how we must constantly look to the Life and Light of men (John 1:4) as we strive to avoid conforming to that world.
In accordance with FTC regulations, I would like to thank The Good Book Company and Cross Focused Reviews for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Chrys Jones is a Christian, husband, father of three, pastor, and teacher. He is also a recording artist and producer for Christcentric Records and a book briefer for Accelerate Books. In his free time, Chrys loves to spend time with his family, roast coffee, read good books, and listen to beat tapes and jazz.