Bread and Circuses
In 140BC Roman politicians felt the best way to win power and keep the populace happy was with cheap food and entertainment. Panem et Circenses or Bread and Circuses.
I sometimes wonder if the western 21st century church could be a little guilty of "Panem et Circenses"
As a one time church leader I heard the phrase "we just aren't being fed" thrown out by disgruntled people who decided to move to a church that will feed them properly!
At the same time I witnessed the almost obsessive desire to produce the perfect worship service, involving incredibly gifted people giving up 2 hours on a Monday night and turning up at church two hours early on a Sunday morning all to deliver a 45 minute worship set. Now I love sung worship and do realise that all bands need to practice and most of the people in worship bands wouldn't be in a rock band so it probably fulfills a creative outlet in their lives which is all very good. It's more about what the crowd expect, they want to be entertained... another great statement you will occasionally hear is "I didn't get much out of the worship this morning" I find it fascinating because we weren't worshipping you!
Anyway I have just had an operation from which I am recovering, I have had to stop going to the gym for 6 weeks but this morning I went for my first brisk walk. It got me thinking about "Diet and exercise". To remain healthy I not only need a good diet but I also need to exercise. I was thinking about the whole bread and circuses thing in relation to diet. Is the church more concerned with diet than exercise? Has a culture been bred that is more about what we eat, how we are entertained, than what we do?
I think the diet provided in the western church is great, there is loads to eat, you could get very fat. This great diet should however work in tandem with and supplement the exercise of our faith.
We need to exercise our faith to remain healthy, Diet and exercise.
- We exercise faith when we pray for the sick
- We exercise faith when we spend time with people who don't yet know Jesus
- We exercise faith when we decide to give money to the needy
- We exercise faith when we open our homes to others
- We exercise faith when we give stuff away
- We exercise faith when we value people over projects
- We exercise faith when we fast and cry out to God for the broken state of this world
- We exercise faith when we place more emphasis on family then work
- We exercise faith when we serve
When we concentrate on how we can contribute rather than how we can consume we defeat the cry of "panem et circenses" we live for something beyond our own needs and in turn remain healthy in our faith.