Greater Needs than Bread and Circuses
I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. 19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 20 To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.
21 Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you. 22 All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household.
23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
– Philippians 4:18-23
A recent Facebook meme caught my eye, or rather my mind and heart. I fear he might have been prescient in light of today’s cultural milieu. The meme featured the words of Marcus Tullius Cicero, a first century Roman statesman:
“The evil was not in bread and circuses, per se, but in the willingness of the people to sell their rights as free men for full bellies and the excitement of games which would serve to distract them from the other human hungers which bread and circuses can never appease.”
Bread and circuses is a term referring to a diet of entertainment or political policies on which the masses are fed to keep them happy and docile (Google). Thanks to Cicero I am reminded of the far-reaching importance of Paul’s words: “my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
I need more than bread and circuses. So do you. Paul reminds me that God will supply all my needs. Not government. Not my hard work, careful investing, and frugal living. Not even the latest and most responsible social program. God uses all these things to care for us. But apart from him they are all empty, powerless, trite, and ineffectual. They become distractions.
Sad thing is, we so often look for distractions. Who really wants to be updated constantly about the latest Corona-19 virus statistics? Who can tolerate the constant stream of political hot-potato over police violence, racial tensions, election campaigns, and financial turmoil?
We need an escape. So we turn on the TV and watch a rerun of the 2018 Super Bowl, or an escapist movie, or zany sitcom. We comfort ourselves with the foods that trigger short-term endorphins and add long term weight. We amuse ourselves to death.
How will we be saved? We already have. Now we must live into that reality. God has delivered us from self-destruction. Jesus has atoned for our sins of selfish thankfulness, feast that knows no fast, selfish thanks and praise, words that speak at variance with deeds, for walking pleasant ways unmindful of a broken brother’s needs (Forgive us, Lord, for Selfish Thankfulness – Hope Publishing).
God has, is, and will satisfy all our needs. We’ve been given all we need to live and breathe to this very day by the Father’s goodness and mercy. We are being provided for today by Jesus’ ever-new grace and love. We will be ultimately satisfied at the feast of God’s glorious grace in the life of the world to come.