By Ben Swift
“If you know that your heart is cold, then it is not yet a hard heart; God has not rejected it.” (Tozer)
It seems to me that a significant slice of western society lives by the creed of not taking life too seriously; play hard, play fast and enjoy life while you can. It would seem that although most would be ignorant to the fact, they have been influenced by an Epicurean style philosophy in which pleasure is the chief end of humanity. Modern day thinking, however, has put its own twist on the teachings of Epicurus. While he believed in the pleasures of friendship, the beauty of the Arts and the nobility of a good conscience, many today preach the pleasures of physical and carnal pleasure; a weekend of meaningless sex, drugs and whatever feels good in the moment.
A life subscription to modern day Epicureanism surely must be coupled with a devotion to ignorance. For as the old saying goes, “Ignorance is bliss.” To be ignorant of the consequences of the decisions that focus purely on self-gratification is the only way a person could, in good conscience, continue to follow this path; continue to seek ignorant bliss in their own circumstances.
There is an inescapable catch to this philosophy of life. It can’t go on forever. Pleasure feeding, blissful ignorance will soon come to an end, leaving with it a life emptied of purpose and without eternal hope. Consider the words of Solomon:
“How long will you simple ones love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge?” (Proverbs 1:22)
If you stop and think about it, our western way of life depends on our sustained, ongoing ignorance. Each cog within the corporate machine turns on society’s willingness to buy into the consumerist way of life. It’s almost impossible to escape. There are no decisions we make that don’t impact our world on a far larger scale than we would often care to know about, so it’s easier to not ask too many questions, remaining blissfully ignorant.
Take for example, the controversial topic of climate change. More and more, climate change is being recognised as scientific truth, but it’s been a slow process and one that certainly confronts our way of life; a potential spanner in the works of economic growth. As a global society we are finally coming to the realization that these issues can no longer remain in the closet of blissful ignorance. When extreme climate events are running rampant through the world, causing unprecedented levels of devastation, even politicians can’t escape replacing their short-sighted policies with potential solutions to big picture issues.
While it would be easier, we can’t shift the blame of a world gone wrong onto the shoulders of others. It’s when we put our own lives under the microscope that we can honestly admit the part we have all played. Epicureanism has infiltrated each of us at different levels and will continue to do so, as long as we live in a corporately driven society that holds the highest of doctorates in self-service.
It only takes the opening of our eyes and minds to see that things are clearly not right. To live a life of seemingly blissful ignorance is not what we have been called to do, at least not by the one who personally created us for a far higher purpose. When Paul encouraged us to be fools for Christ, he did not mean to act as fools but rather to live a life for Christ; a life that would appear foolish to those who remain in worship of themselves. Solomon continues:
“Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse, who leave the straight paths to walk in dark ways, who delight in doing wrong and rejoice in the perverseness of evil, whose paths are crooked and who are devious in their ways.” (Proverbs 2:12-15)
When it comes to living a life of purpose, a life that has eternal meaning, it must be a life immersed in the wisdom of Christ. We cannot expect to know how we should live if our hearts and minds are being diverted this way and that by the endless voices of those that sit apart from God’s truth. When it comes to understanding the world’s ongoing problems and issues, we as Christians need to seek wisdom from the eternal King of the universe, whose knowledge far outweighs the futile thinking of finite minds?
Let us seek to grow deeper in truth and wisdom, knowing God and knowing ourselves. Let us listen to his voice as we read his Word and be guided by his spirit. Let us learn to discern the ways of Christ in a world that rarely bends its knee before the one who holds the keys to life.
“My son, preserve sound judgement and discernment, do not let them out of your sight; they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck. Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble.” (Proverbs 3:21-23)