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Mammon/Money: Confronting Its Power

By Les Henson.

Photo by Melissa Walker Horn on Unsplash

Tom Wright in his book, Spiritual and Religions: The Gospel in an Age of Paganism, in Chapter 11, makes three sequential statements that go to the heart of current-day issue regarding the love of money or worship of Mammon, which informs much of our social and political debate causing many problems in the process.

First, he writes, "Mammon, like all idols, enslaves and dehumanises not only those who worship him but also those who are caught in his net. Societies where Mammon is worshipped are societies where the poor are despised: they obviously haven't worshipped the God properly, unlike the rest of us who have received the rewards that he offers. Societies where Mammon is worshipped are societies where millions of people are kept in debt, and hundreds of people are kept in clover."

He then goes on to say, "What can be done about Mammon? It is part of the lie put about by his worshippers, not least in the political and financial institutions in our society, that nothing can be done about him, and indeed that he must be left to himself, since only thus will society find its natural way forward. But that means, to put it bluntly, that Jesus is not Lord of the world; that on the cross he did not, after all, defeat the principalities and powers that enslave human beings."

Finally, he states that, "To begin with, we must follow the example of Jesus and identify with the plight of the poor. It is shocking to say it, but a phrase like that has come to be seen as such a left-wing slogan that many Christians are instantly suspicious of it. I cannot see, however, that the example of Jesus and the fact of rampant Mammon-worship in our society leave us with any choice."

Our politicians often act as if the economy is everything and in so doing neglect the poor and the needy in society. They place economic growth above education, healthcare, and the wellbeing of their citizens as if that is all that matters in life. They take substantial contributions from large corporations and power groups to get elected and are then beholden to their masters. It is true of both sides of politics, and in doing so, they neglect the people who matter, their electorate, the ordinary people. If indeed, Jesus Christ is Lord, then Caesar and Mammon are not, and all injustice must be challenged, and our politicians held accountable.

Likewise, as Christian people, we must recognise that Jesus in the Gospels says a lot about money and wealth. Luke, in particular, says a great deal about the rich and their treatment of and response to the poor, which we must take seriously if we are to be faithful to the gospel (See the Sermon on the Plain in Luke 6:17-26).

We must also understand there is nothing wrong with riches provided they are earned legitimately and not at the expense of the poor or by ripping others off others in the process and used wisely for the extension of the kingdom of God and not for an over lavish lifestyle. John Wesley said, “Earn all you can, give all you can, save all you can.” Certainly, Mammon or money alone can never make us happy or contented but using our money and wealth in the service of others, and the extension of the kingdom of God may bring deep joy and satisfaction.


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