You cannot serve two masters… You cannot serve God and mammon.
– Jesus of Nazareth, Luke 16:13
For many people, religious and non-religious alike, it is common to think of life in terms of two opposing powers, each one active in the world. One is of this world, and the other is of another world, like opposing poles: good and evil, life and death, light and darkness, obscurity and clarity, day and night.
But all of this is muddled thinking and misses what Jesus is speaking of time and again and actually works as a deterrent to internalizing the gospel.
You cannot say that the good are on one side and the bad are on another. Rather, what really breaks the question of allegiance wide open is to ask where each person puts their faith? Speaking as contemplatives we repeatedly ask, Where do we find our God? There is no doubt that even those who subscribe to a religious life can find themselves worshipping an antigod. The first Christians were convinced that there was a god in the world who was not the God of Jesus Christ. In other words, if there is a worldly religion, then there is a god of this godlessness. And Christianity is not excluded from this. This god is most certainly antagonistic to the life and teachings of Christ.
With what platforms does this antigod work to accomplish its goals? Work. Business. Industrialization. Desire. Social programs. Standardization. Education. It creates possessions. It destroys competition. It idolizes private property. It dehumanizes. It objectifies. It is a fraud. It is perpetually the god of the present era in every era. It is at work in the most religious places, even the church, and all around the world. It can easily wear pious devotion as a mask.
The first Christian writings point out that this god works by putting out the mind’s eyes of people. What they see is not the truth.
Jesus declared war on this spirit. You cannot serve two masters, God and mammon. It is important to note that he did not say that it is difficult to serve God and mammon, but that it is impossible to seize, and to possess, and to depersonalize, and to take advantage of, and to enjoy the good life, and to be related to God. Impossible.
The reality all around us today only demonstrates the enormous power that people have given to this god.