We all have stuff; it fills up our bedrooms and our garages. After a while the stuff becomes fixtures, we pass by and do not notice it. Some people even form an emotionalconnection with stuff, because it works for us. That new shirt is so cool, the iPod or iPhone is making everyone else lust, therefore you have moved up the cool ladder. Sometimes marketing is so good that it convinces us that we have to own a certain product in order to survive.
Who wants to be the PC guy? Don’t you want to spray a male body deodorizer on you and have beautiful women flocking you? Doesn’t it make sense to use an antiperspirant that not only makes you sure but also attracts beautiful people? Guys, didn’t you know that if you buy a Red Bull energy drink you will perform better sexually? We buy into this lie that if we buy certain products we will become a certain person. But like I said, I think that’s a lie.
In Christianity we fall into the same advertising traps as some of these products I just wrote about. “You have a God shaped hole in your heart.” “God is the only solution to your problem.” The problem is that God is not a sham-wow. That’s not the way He works but that’s the way we treat Him.
I wonder sometimes who owns who. I wonder if we own our stuff of if it owns us. Have we become slaves to paying off credit cards because of the useless stuff we buy? Have we become slaves to saving money for the newest, latest and greatest gadget? How much have we given ourselves over to the market?
Mammon in the New Testament was the false god of money and greed. Jesus famously said, “no one can serve two masters, you can’t serve both God and Mammon.” Jesus recognized the issue of money and stuff as more of a power and control issue; something that we serve, rather than something that serves us. I’ve seen some amazing Christian business people who allow money to serve them, not the other way around.
I think Jesus saw Mammon as a direct competitor to the kingdom of God. There is a story of a rich young man that asks about inheriting eternal life. Already there is a sense of entitlement in his question, after all aren’t you entitled to an inheritance? Jesus’ response to the man who has so much wealth is to give it all away. I don’t necessarily think that this story is universally applicable, but I do see why Jesus asked this of the ruler. He was entitled, he deserved, and he earned it, but you can’t earn God’s grace. Because he rejected what Jesus asked of him, he was exposed, he was not autonomous, he was a ruler but the god of greed and money ruled him.
I think Jesus really wants us to experience freedom, so we can show that freedom to others. In America we are bound so much by consumerism. How would your life change if you decided that what you own wouldn’t own you? What if you practiced the opposite of greed, generosity? What does freedom look like for you? Maybe you give the useless stuff away; maybe you sell it and pay off the bills. Maybe you and your family need to start looking at Christmas and birthdays differently. But what does it look like for you?
***The god Mammon has historically been a bull, the bull that is pictured is located on Wall-Street in New York City.***Share