Writer, Church leader, Eccentric Nut, Marketer

I'm Church Leader, Writer, Speaker, Marketer, Kindness Project Founder, Broadcaster and Superhero. But most important I'm a Husband, Father and a worshiper of Jesus.

21 March 2010

Hedonism and Delight

Delight: a feeling of extreme pleasure or satisfaction

The first officially recorded time that the concept of "Hedonism" was practiced as an active philosophy was by a man named Democritus (460 BC- 370 BC). He proposed that
"The supreme goal of life is 'contentment' or 'cheerfulness'. Joy and sorrow are the distinguishing mark of things beneficial and harmful'"
For the next 2500 years, men like Epicurus, Freud, John Stuart Mills, right up until the modern French philosopher and author of "The Atheist Manifesto" Michael Onfray... have backed a method of thinking and being, called Hedonism that states:

"Pleasure and Happiness are the only things that have intrinsic value or good.”

Hedonism's root word is hēdonē (meaning pleasure or DELIGHT). Some have proposed extravagance is the route to GOOD while some counter with restraint. Some have talked exclusively about one's own happiness, while others have included the well-being of others. Epicurus noted that the highest pleasure was "tranquility and freedom from fear"... things that could be out of a Freedom House pamphlet. These are things the human soul are looking for.

What's interesting is that down whatever Hedonist path the philosopher goes down... the end result doesn't include God. Most include NO God while a few admit that God MAY exist but He has no interaction with man. When it comes down to it... Hedonism is:

It's embracing the feeling of extreme pleasure or satisfaction IN the feeling of extreme pleasure or satisfaction.

God cares quite deeply what He (and we) DELIGHT in.

YOU: The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing." (Zephaniah 3:17)

HIM: Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this.
(Psalm 37)

Those are the biggies. It's God and us having extreme pleasure in each other. There are 3 other areas that the Bible talks primarily about when dealing with what is good for us to delight in. He says that we should delight in:

  1. Our own weakness (2 Cor 9)
  2. God's Law (Romans 7)
  3. The love of others (Pretty much the whole book of Song of Solomon)

It's pretty cool actually that the things we're asked to have the feeling of extreme pleasure and satisfaction about... are things that force us to acknowledge and honor something larger than us. Things that force us to our focus from OUR greatness and shift our dependence to God. Why?

Because God DOES want to ADD things onto us... but he knows that WE need to "Seek first the Kingdom of God and HIS righteousness" so that He can finish Matthew 6:33 and say "and all these things shall be added onto you"

It's God's order of operations. In math... the order of operations goes like this:

I found it very cool that things that make the most difference come first. Simple addition and subtraction happen last. That's how God looks at "stuff". He's never said that enjoying his "gifts" or the stuff we come across on this 3rd rock from the Sun is wrong. Far from it. But we never meant to DELIGHT in the addable and substractable things of life. When you DELIGHT IN DELIGHT, you're walking on sinking sand. We're falling into the same trap that Eve did when she threw away the gift of freedom... delighting in God, His gifts, His Law, and the love of her man. God is never at the end of the hedonistic path.

"When you stop expecting people to be perfect, you can like them for who they are. When you stop expecting material possessions to complete you, you'd be surprised how much pleasure you get in material possessions. When you stop expecting God to end all your troubles, you'd be surprised how much you like spending time with God." Don Miller

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