The Challenge of Mammon and Human-size gods
The Prince of Peace (Isa 9:6; Lk 2:14) speaks on a mountain to crowds of poor laborers, farmers, sick people, about the in-breaking of God’s rule. Seek God’s kingdom now! (Mk 1:15; Mt 6:10)
Israel’s ancient prophets attacked idolatry. It was about the people’s desire for human-size gods they can bargain with, get stuff from. It was also about reality. Serve Baal to get fertility and you serve nothing. Self-deception. The one living God is already there freely creating that fertility. But no bargain. God’s purposes are larger than fertility.
Jesus says, “You cannot serve God and Mammon.” Mammon is Aramaic for ‘stuff,’ ‘money,’ ‘what you trust.’ Jesus personifies it as the god who offers to supply all that. Matthew and Luke leave it as a god’s name. Mammon is the practical, powerful, human-size god who promises to provide all and secure all who serve him. He is money, power, sex, intellect, control, family, race, violence, war, progress, greed, etc. He’s the default god of humanity. We anxiously serve without realizing. (David Foster Wallace, “This is Water” 2005).