Jesus Christ is the truth who sets us free to glorify Abba by the power of the Holy Spirit burning brightly in our radiant hearts.
Pluto—false, defeated, now desperate god of money—still has other ideas. Pluto wants us to think of him as God Almighty or at least as a real god. He insists on the loyalty due a divine being. And he expects us to demonstrate that loyalty by living as servants enthusiastically fulfilling his will.
Sadly enough Pluto, for a little while longer, is still capable of getting us to devote ourselves to him. He does this in two ways. First, he attacks us externally through destructive relationships involving money. We all need money to pay bills. That’s not wrong but it does leave us vulnerable. Sometimes Pluto seeks to compel us, through necessity, to earn money in ways which serve him rather than God. Sometimes he seeks to compel us to lie, cheat, steal, hurt, or even kill another human being to protect ourselves or those we love.
Worse, Pluto also attacks us internally. He does this through our little heart of darkness. Pluto is a power of evil that exists outside of us as a phantom, spiritual, personal, active, evil, and parasitic power. At the same time, we each have a little heart of darkness which is a power of evil that exists inside of us in that same absurd way. Our little heart of darkness loves Pluto and seeks to have us fulfill his will in how we live.
A short digression: We each have two hearts: a heart of darkness and a radiant heart. That heart of darkness lies at the center of our old, false, hurtful way of being human which Christ defeated at the cross. Our radiant heart lies at the center of our new, true, helpful way of being human that became ours with Christ’s resurrection. We witness to Christ’s victory each moment we think, imagine, will, feel, speak, act, and organize ourselves in ways which express our radiant heart. We serve Pluto (and the other five false Olympian gods) each moment we indulge our doomed and now desperate heart of darkness.
Through our little heart of darkness, Pluto gets us to devote ourselves to him rather than to God. He does this by using money to satisfy our little heart’s craving for power, happiness, and earned righteousness. Through money Pluto gives us control over other persons, organizations, and creation. Through money he allows us to live without a particle of personal pain as we indulge ourselves with every manner of material comfort. And through money he allows us to think of ourselves as more virtuous than those with less money even as he provides us with all the justification we need to make even more money by any means necessary.
Through our little heart of darkness, Pluto also gets us to devote ourselves to him by getting us to think of God in terms of money. So we think we are worshiping God, but really we are worshiping Pluto, when we think of God as an accountant who credits our good deeds and debits our bad ones. God’s judgment then becomes the bottom line. If our good deeds outnumber the bad, we get into Heaven. If our account is in the red, we go to Hell.
Jesus cannot bear this wildly popular image of God as accountant. Jesus himself is the one true image of God. To combat Pluto’s false image, Jesus chased the moneychangers out of the Temple. He couldn’t stand to see all their busyness—all their otherwise honest business with nickels and dimes—occurring in the place of God’s grace.
Then Jesus Christ went to the cross and died in our place and for our sake. Jesus Christ, the Word of God made flesh, freely took our sin, freely gave us his righteousness, and in doing so freely set us right with God. We have been saved by grace: God’s freely given and wholly unmerited love. Now we may live lives of gratitude by being equally gracious toward others.
(Today’s reflections were guided by Jacques Ellul’s book, Money and Power (trans. LaVonne Neff, Inter-Varsity Press, 1984).
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