Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Panem et circenses

In 140 bc roman politicians felt the best way to win power and keep the populace happy was with cheap food and entertainment. 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 have heard the phrase "we just aren't being fed" thrown out by disgruntled people who have decided to move on to a church that will feed them properly!

At the same time I have witnessed the almost obsessive desire to produce the perfect worship service, involving incredibly gifted people giving up a Monday night for 2 hours, turning up at church two hours early on a Sunday 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.

Didn't have any photo's of bread or circuses so went with smoked salmon and cheese.


lisa said...

Good thoughts. The smoked salmon and cheese look good as well.

Neil said...

good blog brian - like it!

Neil said...

good blog brian! like it!

Jonny Nott said...

A good summary of many peoples' frustrations with consumeristic church culture, I'd say..