The Original Hunger Games

"Just how far have you been lulled into "sleep," accepting that life is as it is and there is nothing you can do. Are you in the arena playing your part until death? Are you willing to accept the status quo because it's too hard to fight?"

This is a great question from Oretha Winston at The new movie Hunger Games has elevated this issue to a highly public discourse.

If you're not familiar with the storyline, America becomes a futuristic dystopia where the Capitol wields absolute and despotic authority over 12 Districts. At some point in the past, the Districts rebelled against the Capitol, and in retribution the Capitol now requires that each District provide two Tributes to compete in the Hunger Games.

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By "compete" I mean that the 24 Tributes each have one goal: survival.

In Hunger Games, much of the society has been lulled into a lethargic state and refuses to rebel against this ungodly and macabre spectacle that serves only to alleviate the existential boredom of the desensitized leadership.

But that would never happen now… right?

Or perhaps the concept behind Hunger Games doesn't seem that farfetched; because it isn't that farfetched.

If you go back far enough in our cultural genealogy, you'll find yourself seated in an arena called the Coliseum on a hot and sweltering day in ancient Rome. An eager anticipation and excitement spreads through the crowd as they hear the sounds of roaring lions and gladiators preparing for combat. Soon after, scores of slaves and prisoners of war are ushered into the arena, only to be slaughtered by the Roman "tributes", who leave behind a mass of human carnage.

That wasn't a movie; it was a reality for hundreds of years. There were Christians all through the Empire, but they had been lulled to a state of indifference by the gradual moral decay that spread like a deadly cancer through one of the greatest civilizations the world has ever known.

These were the original "Hunger Games," and I believe George Santayana was spot on when he said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." And we will repeat it, unless we unite as believers in THE Cause and witness the Lord Jesus Christ changing our morally decaying culture from the inside out.
The solution to our rapid dissension into a Hunger Games style of society will not be found in a political party or social reform or by rallying at a park or pole. None of these ideas are wrong, but simply when compared to the power found in the gospel of Jesus Christ, they are small flames. What is needed is a raging forest fire!
And yes, it only takes one person to ignite this inferno and wake up the Body of Christ bringing transformation to our nation. I know this because it was one man who ultimately brought about the end of the original "Hunger Games."

A lone Christian monk living in the 5th century named Telemachus was up early praying one morning when he felt the Holy Spirit leading him to go to Rome. Upon arrival he was swept along by the crowds and ended up in the Coliseum for the gruesome spectacle of gladiatorial games. The crowd was hungry for blood, but Telemachus was hungry for God.

Unwilling to turn away from the culturally sanctioned violence, he leapt into the arena and shouted, "Stop! Stop! In the Name of Christ I beg you to stop!"

At first the crowd was amused, but their hoopla quickly turned into hatred, and in the cacophony of boos and the maelstrom of the moment, Telemachus was killed – a martyr for his convictions and fearless opposition to sin.

Telemachus died, but not in vain. His work was accomplished the moment he was struck down. The shock of his death transformed the hearts of the crowd. They had been awakened to the hideous aspects of this vice to which they had formerly surrendered themselves. The Roman Emperor Honorius issued an edict that day forbidding all future gladiatorial games, and his order lasted through the rest of the Empire's history.

The majority of believers in America would probably have ignored the violence and accepted the status quo because it was too hard to fight. But can we all pray that God raises up men and women who are as committed to THE Cause as Telemachus was to ending the violence?

If you think that might be you, then take to heart the promise Jesus gave us just before His ascension:

"But you shall receive power (ability, efficiency, and might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the ends (the very bounds) of the earth." (Acts 1:8 AMP)

Every believer has the power of the Holy Spirit, and we ARE Christ's witnesses whether we feel like it or not. The question is- what kind of witness are you? Are you one that has been lulled to sleep or one that is wide awake and ready to be a change agent for Jesus to the very bounds of the earth?

What are you hungry for today? Believe me… this is no game!

Lane Palmer serves as a writer for Dare 2 Share Ministries (D2S) in Arvada, Colorado, a ministry committed to energizing and equipping teenagers to know, live, share and own their faith in Jesus. For more information about D2S, please visit

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