Reading to prepare this Sunday’s sermon on James 4:1-12, I came across this quote, which I think is equally true for Sydney-siders:
Why can’t anyone in the grip of greed see it? The counterfeit god of money uses powerful sociological and psychological dynamics. Everyone tends to live in a particular socioeconomic bracket. Once you are able to afford to live in a particular neighbourhood, send your children to its schools, and participate in its social life, you will find yourself surrounded by quite a number of people who have more money than you. You don’t compare yourself to the rest of the world, you compare yourself to those in your bracket. The human heart always wants to justify itself and this is one of the easiest ways. You say, “I don’t live as well as him or her or them. My means are modest compared to theirs.” You can reason and think that no matter how lavishly you are living. As a result, most Americans think of themselves as middle class, and only 2 percent call themselves “upper class.” But the rest of the world is not folled. When people visit here from otehr parts of the globe, they ae staggered to see the level of material comfort that the majority of Americans have come to view as a necessity.
Jesus warns people far more often about greed than about sex, yet almost no one thinks they are guilty of it. Therefore we should all begin with a working hypothesis that “this could easily be a problem for me.” If greed hides itself so deeply, no one should be confident that it is not a problem for them.
Tim Keller, Counterfeit Gods (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2009), 52-53.