Sunday sermon is now available – It’s Learning From John Wesley: Money. The main text is Matthew 6:19-34, but I start with Ephesians 6:10. The pivot text is Matthew 6:24 – “You cannot serve both God and Money [Mammon].”
I suggested first, that mammon is at least akin to one of the principalities and powers that is arrayed against us. These powers, though created good (Colossians 1:16), have been corrupted by sin. Money, wealth and riches are conceivably good for us. I can imagine God thinking that money would be a good feature of a complex economy. But it went bad. Like the other principalities and powers, it was defeated by Jesus on the cross (Colossians 2:15).
I also made the distinction between active sin and passive sin, modeled on the old distinction between Jesus’ active and passive obedience. This distinction is different from the common one of sins of commission and sins of omission. By my reckoning both of those are active sin. Passive sin is the sin we suffer – the sin of other people that impacts us – the destruction that comes to us from living in a broken world. The salvation Jesus brings offers us salvation from both kinds of sin. One support I see for this position is found in N.T. Wright’s works. He claims that the phrase “forgiveness of sins” goes beyond referring to forgiveness of an individual’s sinful actions to mean something like “return from exile.” Exile in this case is suffering for sins – sometimes your own, often form the sins of others.
As a power lined up against us, Mammon has been defeated by Jesus. Like at least some of the other powers, however, Mammon is still on the scene trying to destroy our lives. As we “Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness,” we please God, live the good life, and frustrate Mammon. For more on how this message build on Wesley see my earlier discussion.