John Piper’s book ‘Desiring God’ inspires Jackie Hill-Perry’s album
John Piper’s influence on Christian hip hop continues.
Jackie Hill-Perry released her label debut album, The Art of Joy, on Nov. 4 under Humble Beast Records. She told Rapzilla that Piper’s book “Desiring God,” which the Baptist preacher published in 1986 and named the ministry he founded in 1994, inspired the contents of her project.
The Art of Joy isn’t the first project that Piper has influenced. Snippets of his sermons can be found on numerous Christian hip-hop songs — Tedashii’s “Make War,” Shai Linne’s “All Consuming Fire” and Json’s “Who Is He?” for example. Perhaps most the notable Piper-influenced efforts are Lecrae’s 2008 hit “Don’t Waste Your Life” and Reach Records’ tour by the same name that followed, which is the title of a book Piper released in 2003.
The Art of Joy debuted at No. 6 on iTunes’ top-selling hip-hop/rap chart last week, even with Humble Beast offering it for free on its official website. Here is an excerpt of Hill-Perry’s interview.
David Daniels: What is the concept of your album?
Jackie Hill-Perry: The concept is based on the book “Desiring God.” It’s pretty much this idea of, I’m playing with two worlds: What does it look like when God is our joy, when God is our satisfaction and what does it look like when he’s not? Often times in the Bible, we see people looking for the things God has in himself in other things.
For example, you see Eve, she looks at the tree, and she says “It’s good to be wise,” as if God is not the epitome of wisdom himself. She literally turned from God to get something that God already had in himself, and in her rejecting him, she actually became a fool. And I think we all do that. We want something that could’ve made us happy, but we choose to get it outside of God. I played with that idea a lot when it comes to knowledge, love, money, fear, protection, safety and power.
And “Desiring God” is by John Piper, right?
Yeah, that’s the homie … Not the homie like we text or nothing, but … he’s still the homie.
Are you going to have a recording of him on the album like other Christian rappers?
Nah, I didn’t do that. If you read his book and you listen to a lot of Christian hedonism stuff, you’ll hear the themes.
Why did you choose this concept?
Aside from the doctrines of grace, it’s one concept that has really renewed my mind when it comes to faith and sin. Now, when I look at certain sins, it’s not, “Oh, I’m just doing this because I want to.” No, what in this sin do you think will satisfy me that God can’t? It makes my processing of my issues a lot deeper, and it’s also expanded my view of God.
God created me for joy. God created me for happiness — in himself, though. That doesn’t mean some butterfly feeling. It’s not like I’m going to just be this cheery person, because we’re going to have to suffer as Christians. But I believe in the midst of suffering, we can have joy in God. It’s been one thing that has really, really, really changed my heart and my thinking as a believer.
At what point in your life did you read this book?
I read “Desiring God” about a year ago, but I’ve been listening to Piper for about 4-5 years, and that’s all throughout everything he teaches.
Was there any event in your life that exemplifies why you wanted to write this concept?
Nah, it’s more so a daily thing, daily sin. If I’m struggling with submission, I think, “What about me not being submissive actually gives me more joy than being submissive?” It’s this concept of, “Oh, you think you’ll be free. You think submission is bondage.” But is God good? Didn’t God submit in Christ for 33 years, even to the point of death? Did he not have joy in pleasing God in that way?
If you think about it that way, you have a whole other approach to submission. No, I won’t have freedom by not submitting. If anything, I’ll have freedom and joy in doing what God wanted me to do by pleasing him and looking like his son. That’s how you get happy. You obey God. It changes everything. Everything.
David Daniels is a writer for Rapzilla.com. He’s been published at The Washington Times, Bleacher Report, Christianity Today and The Daily Caller. Follow him on Twitter.