I had something of a revelation whilst sat playing the piano earlier on today (it happens more often than I’d care to realise). I was playing an old church song called ‘Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise’. It got me thinking, why is it that we give God praise? If God is the only God – as opposed to no God, then it doesn’t make as much sense to give so much by way of praise to God. He’s the only one. It makes sense to me now, all those times I have dismissed people referring to God as an ‘attention seeker’ – yet now it suddenly makes sense.
A God who needs to be reminded of just how great He is? But if he is the only divine being, then he is not worthy of any sort of praise. He is, as it were, the only option. You can’t have a better or worse something if there’s no comparison to make.
But there is a comparison.
In ancient days the people worshiped a variety of gods, most famously Baal and Mammon. The latter one I find particularly interesting. Mammon, the god of money. God makes a lot more sense in the context of other gods – other idols. I am not saying that he is not the only divine being. Far from it. I affirm that truth. However, the idea that God is the only spiritual force at work in the world, the idea that God is unrivalled in his power on this earth, is to me a misunderstanding of our reality.
We live in an ‘enlightened’ world that knows gods such as Mammon and Baal don’t exist. Yet this enlightened world worships with fervent adoration the god of Capitalism. This God is the God against whom Jesus defines himself – Caesar, Rome, Empire, Domination, Unfairness Inequality … Capitalism. Now, I’m not saying Jesus was a socialist either (the title was just a headline grabber – sorry!). But I believe that Jesus continued to define himself against these things. Yet as modern-day Christians, we allow ourselves to take part in the Capitalst god’s rituals.
We shop for the cheapest. We want the promotion. We pursue cars, mortgages, extensions.
Most of all, we are private about our finances. If money truly had no power. If Jesus truly was Lord as we claim, then would money hold any meaning or significance for us? This is the Jesus who tells us to leave behind even our father and mother! How much more important then is it to leave behind Capitalism? The passive acceptance that we as Christians have propagated over the last 2000 years must end and it must end now. There is no other way forward. If we do not, we become an irrelivent, quirky, off-message joke – a feeble remainder of what was once intended to be a thriving community of believers. Let’s not let that happen.