Passion 2015 is happening right now in a packed out Philips Arena in Atlanta and John Piper is again slated to preach. These huge gatherings of college students are special, but the massive size of these annual venues also remind me of a little story about John Piper I stumbled over in an interview and recounted in a book. Here’s the story.
Friday morning, January 11, 2013 dawned frigid and dark in Minneapolis. John Piper finished his devotions, slid on his boots, bundled in his coat, and stepped outside to the remnants of an overnight ice storm to walk 600 slippery steps from his Minneapolis home to the door of Bethlehem Baptist Church for a weekly prayer gathering.
Especially after winter storms, those Friday morning gatherings were small (often only a few would attend), but two or three is enough of an audience to pray for the congregation’s needs and the gospel’s advance.
Just one week earlier, Piper took a different walk. Under the warm spotlight of Atlanta’s Georgia Dome for Passion 2013, Piper climbed the stairs and walked on stage to plead with 60,000 college students to embrace the beauty of Christ as they face a future of inevitable suffering and persecution in various forms. His bold voice echoed through the dome, reiterating the point of the conference. “This is what Passion is about,” he said, “the glorification of the infinite worth of Jesus so that he remains our joy when everything around our soul gives way” (Heb. 10:34). It was more than a message, it was a sobered theme of the conference, a theme of all the Passion Conferences.
Piper has now preached at every major Passion conference since 1997. With annual waves of new students, the Passion Conference crowd is never the same, but Piper’s messages build on one another. And to get a sense of this development, we created this book to collect four of his pivotal messages from the conference, including his first Passion message, a two-part message: “Passion for the Supremacy of God” (1997), his message to 40,000 students: “Boasting Only in the Cross” (2000), along with “Getting to the Bottom of Your Joy” (2011), and his message to the 60,000 students: “Joy as the Power to Suffer in the Path of Love for the Sake of Liberation” (2013).
But first I asked Pastor John to explain his history with Passion and what makes him so eager to speak at Louie Giglio’s conferences, questions he was eager to answer on that icy January day in 2013 after he returned home from the small prayer meeting. Here’s what he said.
Read on in the free book here.