Mammonaholic? What’s that? What’s Mammon in the first place? We usually think of Mammon as “riches,” and that’s quite true. However, Mammon is much broader than that. Mammon is the misuse of God’s good creation through prideful expressions of power, prestige and possessions. In essence, Mammon is the power of Satan in and among us. It is precisely what Jesus came to destroy. He identifies it, teaches us to resist it and ultimately defeats it through his death and resurrection. When Jesus comes back, he’ll recreate a world without Mammon, a world many of us would find boring and pointless. Why? Because we’re Mammonaholics, and that’s a problem because Jesus said we cannot serve both God and Mammon.
Addicted to Power
“If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” Matthew 4:3
He could have done it. He had that kind of power. But Jesus chose not to use it because he wasn’t on a mission to feed his face. Jesus was on a mission to save us from ourselves. Think of a time when you had absolute power over somebody or something. It’s such a rush. You can do anything you want and nobody can stop you. Typically, the things we want are only for ourselves and at someone else’s expense. Power corrupts. Jesus calls us to renounce such power. Why? Because God’s the only one with true power. The rest is just pretending. Jesus calls us to be simple, humble, submissive and utterly dependent on him. Are we addicted to power?
Addicted to Prestige
“If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down [from the temple], for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” Matthew 4:6
It would have been quite the spectacle. Just think of how the YouTube video would have gone viral! Jesus would have been famous! But Jesus didn’t come to be famous. Yes, Jesus attracted crowds, but it wasn’t about him. It was about them. He loved them. Jesus didn’t care what people thought of him. He came to declare truth, a truth that saves both now and for eternity, a truth that got him killed. We idolize our celebrities, sports figures, politicians, and even our YouTube sensations. As a child I dreamt of being famous. I wanted it more than anything. Jesus calls us to do good and be invisible. To Jesus, either we receive our reward here (attention, praise and gratitude), or we receive it from our Father in heaven (eternity). Are we addicted to prestige?
Addicted to Possessions
“All these [kingdoms of the world] I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Matthew 4:9
It’s a scary thing to think that the kingdoms of the world are Satan’s to give! But Jesus did not come to rule the Satanic kingdoms of the earth (including ours). He came to destroy their power through a very different kingdom: the Kingdom of Heaven. But just think of having all the riches of those countries at our control! We could have anything we want in a moment, the best house, the best car, the best gadgets, the best yacht, the biggest portfolio, the most powerful friends… We would never want for anything. But Jesus says his Kingdom is worth selling everything… everything to obtain. Jesus says it’s harder for the rich to enter the Kingdom of Heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle. Are we addicted to possessions?
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and Mammon.” Matthew 6:24
Let’s put this into perspective. We live in the most powerful country in the world. Our media-saturated, success-driven culture is absolutely obsessed with prestige. The average American is among the richest 10% of people in the entire world. Our whole existence is centered on Mammon. It is taught in our schools, encouraged in the home, and way too prevalent in the church. We are addicted and we can’t have it both ways. Either we worship Mammon or we worship God. We Christians need to learn how to live without Mammon, a life of total dependence on God for life and salvation. Whether we go cold turkey or wean ourselves off slowly we have to do it. We must shake off this addiction, and we must do it together.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33
Note: I must give credit for many of these revelations to Doug Jones and his book, “Dismissing Jesus.” Give it a good read. You can find it on Amazon here.