New temples of Mammon are being constantly built across London at the moment. Wikipedia defines Mammon as “wealth or greed, most often personified as a deity.” And Jesus tells us that “You cannot serve both God and Mammon” (Matthew 6:24). But is Mammon the deity most worshipped across London?
Nearly one thousand years ago, after William the Conqueror entered London, he built the White Tower (now the central keep of the Tower of London) to intimidate and keep an eye on the inhabitants of his new city. This building and Westminster Hall (part of the Palace of Westminster) are the oldest surviving buildings in London. Both were built by kings to show off their strength and splendour.
Since these two structures were built, for much of the last 900 years the most impressive building projects have been sites dedicated for Christian worship. The present Westminster Abbey has been constantly added to since 1245, and remains one of the most beautiful and architecturally significant buildings in Westminster. So too in the City, the various incarnations of St Paul’s Cathedral were in medieval times the greatest, most impressive, highest and most laboured over buildings in the Square Mile. After the Great Fire of 1666, the rebuilt St Paul’s was still the tallest building in London. And people would come from across Europe to see the beauty of the 50 churches designed by Christopher Wren. The Victorians loved Wren’s church spires so much they created pictures, paintings and models where all of them could be seen together.
But since that time there have been very few significant church buildings put up in central London. The focus has changed to something else. Nowadays the London skyline is being transformed by office blocks. The tallest buildings in London are now all dedicated to making profits, not to worshipping God. And students of architecture come from across the world to marvel not at St Paul’s or Westminster Abbey, but at The Gherkin, The Shard, and possibly soon The Cheese Grater and The Walkie Talkie. Temples of Mammon now dominate the skyline, the headlines, and the church spires that once used to tower over central London.
Pray that Londoners would spend less time fixated on making money, and more time on worshipping Jesus Christ. Pray that our society would come to value treasure in heaven as being worth more than treasure on earth.
Mark Williamson also blogs regularly at One Rock International, a training organisation resourcing missionary leaders across the globe. He’s passionate about good films, good food, getting into deep conversations, and going for long walks with his wife Joanna.