NORMAN — By Dr. Wade Smith
One of the first words we learn as a child is the word “mine.”
It’s the word that declares to everyone in the room that what I possess is mine and not yours. The word is typically shouted with great emotion and authority, accompanied by a swift pulling of the possession closer to “my” body in an effort to protect and defend it from all aggressors (i.e. “you”).
This early process of socialization and ownership rights tends to go well until the inevitable “you” is introduced into the room, who not only uses the word “mine” to defend his/her possession but also declares “mine” while in the process of taking “yours.”
Of course, the problem of “mine” and “yours” is not just a “toddler” problem but an “adult” problem that continues to impact and shape our culture and world. The New Testament describes this struggle and offers a radical shift.
In Luke 12, Jesus warns us against every form of greed, “for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” He then tells a parable about a man who has an abundance of crops and chooses to build bigger barns to store “his” grain and “his” goods. He declares “mine.” He has so much that he determines that he will take his ease and eat, drink and be merry. Beware, Jesus says, when you store up treasures for yourself and are not rich toward God.
In Luke 19, we meet Zaccheus, a rich tax collector who was despised by all. Not only did Zaccheus have an abundance of “mine,” but he made a living at taking what was “yours.” He was despised because he (a Jew) used the oppressive authority of the Roman government to not only collect taxes but to defraud and “tax” at his own discretion.