I have discoursed before about the sin of “misplaced concreteness.” I think it was C.S. Lewis who offered the term to me. This sin is the error of taking to be real that which is only ephemeral; and, it is a sin which is intrinsic to human nature. It seems to be so pronounced in our modern world with its insane consumerism but it has always been around in some shape, form, or fashion.
Shakespeare often harped on this issue. I strongly recommend you check out his sonnet 146, one of my favorite. And just recently I came across a quote from Rumi, the 13th century Persian poet, who noted, “Everyone is afraid of death, but the real sufi’s just laugh; nothing tyrannizes their heart. What strikes the oyster shell does not damage the pearl.”
Our task is to always be aware of the “oyster shell” and its tyranny, realizing that inside there is a “pearl of great price” which cries out for attention and respect. I think this is what Jesus had in mind when he posed the question, “What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?”