Most everyone in today’s society would agree that money equals security. Because of this, it can be a major motivator. Families want to feel safe; fathers or husbands want to provide that for their families, and money is how we create social rank. In western society, social rank tends to be less about race, heritage, or intellect but about money. Instead of racism (at least visible and socially acceptable racism), our society suffers from the disease of classism. We pass judgment based on others’ clothing, cars and homes. Money is how we tell the world where we belong and who we are. Unfortunately.
However, money is by no means the only motivator in life. While each seems to have either a good or bad connotation attached to it, they are all real and influential in day-to-day life. Some of these include equality, status, servanthood, feelings of fulfillment, fear, reputation and happiness. Some go hand in hand, while money coincides with several.
Some would argue that money has its place as a motivator to attract and retain individuals in situations they may not have otherwise been attached to. Think about it… why would we work if we did not have to? In everyday life, rewards and promotions are constantly utilized to encourage participation. Most would agree that this is not necessarily a bad thing. We have all heard it in church a million times, “Money isn’t bad, but the love and obsession of it is.” Well, there is a reason it is said repeatedly. It is because it is that important!
John 15:19 encourages the people of God not to follow in the way of the world when it says, “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” This verse also implores us not to seek or expect the world’s approval, which is considerably easier said than done.
Writers like Tony Campolo and Shane Claiborne from Red Letter Christians help keep the value of money in perspective. They remind the reader that Jesus cared about the poor and was constantly telling the rich how hard it would be to get to heaven. He did not want people to strive after things but to share what they had and create relationships through community.
Regrettably, our world today is completely consumeristic. Marketers spend all their time and energy trying to convince us that we need products to fulfill ourselves. The world tries to fill our heads with the notion that whenever something is wrong or not going our way there is a product that we can buy to fix it.
Dr. Allen Kenner, child psychologist, wrote in his book: Psychology and Consumer Culture: The Struggle for a Good Life in a Materialistic World, “Teens are inundated with so much marketing about the importance of brands to identity and image, it has changed the way they socialize with each other, interact with adults and view themselves and the world.”
And yet, our society seems aware of the risks of monetary greed. It is a common theme in movies and books . . . how far can the American Dream take you? It has been a haunting question for decades. Take The Great Gatsby, for example. Set in the 1920s, we see how “enough” is never enough. Or a recent example, the movie Paranoia, featuring Liam Hemsworth, explores how much one will risk to be “in,” to “see how the other side lives.”
This is the first part in a two part editorial. Read next week’s Echo for part two.