Sunday, August 2, 2015

Discovering the Delicate Deception of Mammon

Jesus commands all his disciples to sell their possessions and give to the poor. He said we cannot serve our master, God and the god, Mammon. Certainly there are more 'gods' than just Mammon. But Mammon is the chosen god of America, and we find it hard to see our way outside of it. It is more often than not that we are deceived as to the level our love of wealth has corrupted us. We feel wrong in our heart unless we serve Mammon, even though the Scriptures teach us to do otherwise. This is why it is good to have some standards by which to compare ourselves to and to really do some heart-searching before God. Because the love of wealth destroys us. Every day. And we don’t even see it. We don’t know how much we serve Mammon, because we always have, as our parents and grandparents did before us. Mammon-worship is so common to the American way of life, that we don’t even know we are doing it.

If we have two coats (or the means to buy another), see a person with none and do not give it, then our god is probably Mammon.

If a poor person comes to the door and we do not even offer some food to them, then our god is probably Mammon.

If we use the local non-profit as a place to dump our garbage, then we are our god is probably Mammon.

If we have an extra room, but do not have a homeless person living with us, then our god is probably Mammon.

If we walk by poor beggars daily and make excuses for not giving to them, then our god is certainly Mammon.

If we celebrate with our family, have our Christmas and Thanksgiving parties with those whom we love, but we do not invite the poor or helpless, then we are disobeying the word of Jesus and serving the god of Mammon. If we have no relationship with the poor, but only see them from a distance, afraid and disgusted by their state, so we are separated from Christ, and so we are servants of Mammon.

If the profit of our business is more important than the survival of the poor, hungry, homeless, and outcast, then our god is Mammon. If the policy of your company is to turn away people looking for water, to evict the poor when their rent is a week overdue, to pour bleach on food when it is being thrown away, to refuse to allow someone to use the bathroom because they can’t afford to pay for your wares, then you are serving Mammon.

If there are hungry on our streets that have never known our kindness or the move of the love of Jesus from us to them, then our god is probably Mammon. If the only food we give are old cans of green beans or beets, or food that we are allergic to, then our god is probably Mammon.

If the annual amount we spend on clothes or our car exceeds that which we spend on the poor, then we probably serve Mammon.

If our tithe goes to a church that spends large amounts on Christmas pageants and a large, gorgeous building, but has a “benevolence ministry” that is only open once a month, with a pittance for the poor, then we are serving Mammon. If our church is left empty in the winter when there are poor people sleeping in the freezing cold, then we are serving Mammon. If our church’s retreat or youth budget is larger than our benevolence budget, then we are serving Mammon.

If we support with our vote or our finances or our volunteer time the politics of Mammon, which takes from the poor and uses their power to kill the poor of both the nation in which we live and nations far away, we are certainly serving Mammon. If our candidate demonizes the poor, calling them “lazy” or “a burden on society”, then we are a servant of Mammon. If our candidate demands that the wealth of our country not go to the poorest of the world, whether in our country of origin or outside, but to be fed to the god of the Military, or the god of Government Bureaucracy, then we are serving Mammon.

And if we, the Christian poor, are ungrateful to those who sacrifice to give us what they can, but we demand more than they can give, more than our fellow poor people receive, then we too are looking to greed rather than the God who gives us abundantly more than we need, we too are serving Mammon.

The only answer to any of us is the word of Jesus—let us take what little or much wealth we have and give it freely to those who have greater need than we. Let us be people who are characterized by generosity, not bitterness, nor stinginess. May we not seek for our own first and the needy second. Rather, let us truly do as Jesus said, and love our needy neighbor as ourselves, no less than we love ourselves.

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