John Piper’s preaching and writing ministry had a huge impact on Christian Gen-Xers like me. He first began to get nationwide attention through speaking to college students at Passion Conferences in the late nineties. I was late to the game when it came to Piper, as I first became aware of him at seminary in the spring of 2004, and I learned of him in an unusual way.
Back then, computers with Windows operating systems played a distinctive melody when they booted up (click here if you want to know or walk down memory lane). However, a classmate of mine with a Dell laptop gone into the settings and swapped the melody for a brief clip of Piper saying “the glory of God.” I asked my classmate who it was, and now thirteen years later I’m still learning from and thankful for John Piper.
But perhaps Piper’s most influential sermon was preached on May 20, 2000, at an event held just up the road in Memphis, at Shelby Farms, called One Day 2000. He titled it “Boasting Only in the Cross,” and in it he famously told the story he picked up in a Reader’s Digest of two early retirees, who devoted all their resources to boating around the Gulf of Mexico and collecting seashells during their golden years.
Piper called that self-centered picture of retirement and the American Dream “a tragedy.” “And there are people in this country that are spending billions of dollars to get you to buy it. And I get 40 minutes to plead with you—don’t buy it. With all my heart I plead with you—don’t buy that dream. . . . As the last chapter before you stand before the Creator of the universe to give an account with what you did: ‘Here it is, Lord—my shell collection. And I’ve got a good [golf] swing. And look at my boat.’”
Piper’s sermon eventually became the book called Don’t Waste Your Life.
On The Gospel Coalition blog there is an interesting article about the One Day event, Piper’s sermon, and the big impact it had on so many. Enjoy.