Hedonism is a system of ethics in which pleasure is the sole goal of life. The motto of the hedonist is: “Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” As much as we would not like to admit it, much of the motivation for things we spend time doing in our American culture is rooted in hedonism. So many spend their days seeking to find pleasure for themselves. The problem, of course, with a hedonistic lifestyle is that other areas suffer as a result: commitments to family, work and the Church fall by the wayside many times when personal pleasure is your sole focus.
What can the Church do in regards to the prevalence of hedonism in our society? Guiding people to the greater good beyond personal indulgence is one of the most important qualities that the Church can provide. Christ himself spoke about overindulgence of selfish desires when he said: “Be on your guard against all kinds of greed,” which hedonism essentially is (Luke 12:15).
Jesus also told a parable about a farmer who only wanted to “eat, drink and be merry.” That night the man’s life was taken from him and Jesus said, “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:15, 21).
The Church provides a way for us to be rich toward God in how we live—not looking to ourselves only, but looking to Christ and to others for joy and fulfillment in life. As Colossians 3:1 says, “Set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” Make what is pleasing to God your ultimate desire. And as Philippians 2:3-4 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Looking to the needs of others and not yourself is the Christlike model for living and is the culmination of a fulfilling life.
If God wanted us to just be here for ourselves, he would not have placed us in relationships with himself and with others.
What the Church and what we as Christians need to remember is that life is not all about me, but is all about we—our bond with others and with Christ, which the Bible says fills us with unspeakable joy (1 Peter 1:8).