The Epic of Gilgamesh
Posted: Saturday, September 30
Verse of the day:
Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. (Ephesians 2:3-4 NLT)
If you can think back to your world literature class from high school, you might remember this story. The Epic of Gilgamesh is an ancient poem often considered the earliest surviving great work of literature. One of the main characters is Siduri, a female divinity who has the power of fermentation. That’s right . . . she’s the beer goddess. The protagonist, Gilgamesh, is in pursuit of immortality, and Siduri’s goal is to dissuade him. This is the argument that she makes . . .
“Fill your belly. Day and night make merry. Let days be full of joy. Dance and make music day and night [...] These things alone are the concern of men.”
The ethic of Siduri’s argument and specifically this quote are considered the first recorded example of a hedonistic philosophy. Hedonism is the worship of pleasure. It’s the idea that our greatest goal should be to see our pleasure outmeasure our pain. Let’s compare Siduri’s advice from the 18th century BC to the lyrics of a song currently ranked #4 in the US. The song is titled “There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back” by Shawn Mendes. He writes . . .
“Baby, there's nothing holding me back // You take me places that tear up my reputation // Manipulate my decisions // Baby, there's nothing holding me back”
The message is very much the same. Hedonism focuses on the desire to have, the desire to feel, and the desire to be. Any other objective is secondary.
My goal for you today is two fold. First, I want to give you the tools to recognize a hedonistic message when you hear it. You might hear it in a song lyric, in the advice of a friend, or even in the retweet of a celebrity preacher. “You take care of you.” “You deserve to be happy.” “Live the life you’ve always wanted.”
Secondly, I want you to see how the message of Christ is so drastically different.
“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” (Ephesians 2:3-4)
Christ denied pleasure to take up the cross. Paul denied pleasure to build the church, and someone you know denied pleasure to invest in you—a parent, a friend, a pastor. If you have a minute, read through Ephesians 2:5-11, and let’s pursue the attitude of Christ in everything we do.