Tune in for Jeopardy! “I’ll take ‘THINGS TO CANCEL’ for two hundred.” Hooray! It’s the daily double! “A display to gaze at and trash,” says Ken Jennings, the new host of Jeopardy.
“Uh, what are people?”
It happened to Jesus at his crucifixion. “All the crowds had assembled for this spectacle” (Luke 23:48).
It happened to Paul as well. “I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men” (1 Corinthians 4:9).
In the first century, Roman spectacles were an integral part of Roman culture. Spectacles were staged in various arenas, such as theaters, stadiums, and circuses, but the most important was the amphitheater. Tickets were available for wild beast shows in the morning, executions of condemned criminals at midday, and gladiatorial shows in the afternoon (Alison Futrell, The Roman Games, 84-103; Thomas Wiedemann, Emperors and Gladiators, 55-56).
The reason for making a public spectacle of one person was to instill fear and deter others from undesirable behaviors. Public humiliation not only served as a punitive function for maintaining order; it became an elaborate form of entertainment in Roman society.
Today, it is common to hear calls for public outrage and reprisal for perceived offences in the digital “amphitheater.” Agree with the consensus or you, too, may be accused of “being partners with those so treated” (Hebrews 10:33). No one wants to be the next #spectacle.
Thankfully, Paul left instructions on how to handle this (1 Corinthians 4:12b-13a).
- “When reviled, we bless” = when railed on, ask God to empower them to accomplish HIS will
“When persecuted, we endure” = when targeted, pray for patient steadfastness while God accomplishes HIS will
“When slandered, we entreat” = when disparaged, ask the Lord for the winsome courage to win them to the truth in Christ
Give to others the gift they so desperately need but can find nowhere else. Grace.