A lesson from Broadway's "One Man, Two Guvnors"

A Christian Science perspective.

In a comedy recently produced on Broadway, a young man discovers what it’s like to try to work for two bosses at the same time. Needless to say, chaos, confusion, and many comic moments ensue. The play, “One Man, Two Guvnors,” was praised by critics and is still in production in London, where it originated.

In real life, trying to serve two masters at the same time might not be so funny. In one of his most beloved sayings from the Sermon on the Mount, Christ Jesus assured us that it is unwise to divide our thought, effort, and loyalties between God and material pursuits. He said, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24).

One definition of “mammon” is “material wealth or possessions especially as having a debasing influence.” And in a number of Bible translations, mammon is translated as “Money” (often with a capital M), wealth, gold, or worldly riches.

It would therefore seem that, in today’s parlance, Jesus is admonishing us to get our priorities straight. If we make the pursuit of an extreme, greedy, or damaging sense of wealth our goal or priority, we may find that God gets short shrift. Actually, Jesus expressed the idea as an either/or proposition, which resonates with the First Commandment’s demand to have one God. Jesus said that if we tried to serve both God and mammon, we could end up hating spiritual pursuits. If that were to happen, the result would be worse than the confusion experienced by the character who tried to work for “two guvnors.”

Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, saw great significance in Jesus‘ words about the perils of trying to serve two masters. In her writings, she describes Jesus as our “Way-shower” and underlined the importance of following his admonitions. In the Christian Science textbook, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” she wrote, “Material beliefs must be expelled to make room for spiritual understanding. We cannot serve both God and mammon at the same time; but is not this what frail mortals are trying to do?” (p. 346).

On a practical level in my own life, I’ve found that I experience more peace and fulfillment when I emphasize spiritual pursuits – when I try to serve God as Jesus instructed. When I start my day acknowledging God as being in control and am willing to strive to do His will, it helps bring into focus the best path for that particular day. This is a good start.

If I continue to endeavor to serve God during the day, better still. I can do that by striving to see each person with whom I come into contact as a perfect and beloved child of God. I can listen for God’s direction. I can reject the pull of materiality, excessive consumerism, and selfish goals in favor of emphasizing love, gentleness, and forgiveness. If I fall short and am tempted by greed, impatience, anger, jealousy, etc., I can wake up and get myself back on a more spiritual track. I have seen evidence that trying to have “one master” and to serve God rather than mammon or material thinking is its own reward and leads to the unfoldment of greater and greater good in one’s life.

The great songwriter Bob Dylan wrote a 1979 Grammy-winning song that emphasized the inevitability of having to choose between the two possible masters described by Jesus. The lyrics of “Gotta Serve Somebody” stress that, whoever you are – a businessman, a socialite, a heavy-weight champion, a dancer, etc. – you’re choosing who your master is, and, by implication, the consequences which ensue.

Clearly, to choose God as your master, rather than mammon or materiality, is the best, safest, and most satisfying choice you can make. 

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to A lesson from Broadway's
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today