Time was, people were entertained by watching grown men hack other to death in an arena. As the times have changed, likewise our entertainments.
We have moved on, right?
We are more evolved, and are no longer entertained by the fighting and suffering of others.
We watch grown men pummel each other on the gridiron, beat the snot out of one another in the ring (or cage), and play video games where we (vicariously) do the killing.
This shows me that, while the entertainments have changed, we have not.
Human nature is exactly the same as it was during the days of the Roman arena. And what the Romans said then still holds true: give the people bread and circuses (food and entertainment) and you can govern them.
It’s working, and has for years. I don’t presume to speak for anyone, but it sure seems to me that, generally speaking, we care far more about our entertainments, and our three squares a day, than we do about the oppressed, the downtrodden, we pass everyday. All one needs do is hit the Internet, and one will see a plethora of passionate posts, or podcasts, debating the merits of this, or that, show, movie, what have you.
Don’t get me started on sports…
Point is: bread and circuses works because our basic human nature has not changed. And people are up in arms, wanting to fix this, that, and the other. There is no nip and tuck, no quick fix.
(For instance, change the gun control laws, make them much more restrictive, and we have changed nothing. We create a thriving black market. Criminals will still get guns. Did we learn nothing from Prohibition?).
We don’t need a “fix,” because fixes are like bandaids: they slough off, or like stitches dissolve. Fixes are temporary.
Contemporary society poo-poos it, the media ignores it, but the fact remains: no external stimulus has the power to change a heart. Certainly, we can enforce compliance, but this–like a fix–is again temporary.
We need something permanent. We all need to die, and be remade. Last time I checked, governments could not do this, laws cannot.
Yes, all laws are legislated morality; yet even God’s law, as given in the Old Testament–perfect as it was–did not have the power to change the hearts that fell in the garden.
Only the one called Jesus can reach into the morass of a selfish, prideful, sinful soul, pluck out its heart, and tranplant it from the inside out. For instance, Saul of Tarsus–killer of Christians–became, after an encounter with the risen Christ, the Apostle Paul, missionary, and author of most of the New Testament.
This is why Jesus came to die: to make us new. And to be made new, we must die to: pride, vanity, selfishness, shame, mistrust… To ourselves, and daily take up take up the cross that we bear; namely, these flesh suits that seeks to distract, annoy, tempt, and lead us astray. That is our burden: that we are new creations housed in old bodies.
We have to daily choose the new. Live it. And it starts with the only thing we can truly control: our attitudes.
It’s up you, and it’s up to me. The watching world is waiting.
So my question to you is: will you be satisfied with bread and circuses, or do you want the bread that came down from heaven?
“He has shown thee, o man, what is good and what the Lord requires of thee: to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with thy God.” Micah 6:8
A note about the picture above: it comes from today’s entry in J.I. Packer’s Knowing God desk calendar. Personally, I think it makes a great (in Donald Miller’s words) “decision filter.” That is, with it in mind, and once we have it settled in our hearts, the real priorities come to the fore. Because what’s more important than knowing Him? And do we want anything to interfere with that? Just something to ponder.