When I did my seminary internship, the parish administrator had a little sign on her desk that said, “All people are born left-handed. You turn right-handed when you commit your first sin.” As I’m sure you can guess, Betty was left-handed.
I wouldn’t want to weigh in on the merits of a theology of left-handedness, but I do have a thought on what the first sin is for most of us is. I think the first sin most of us commit happens at the moment we learn the word “MINE!”
I have two beautiful daughters, who I love more than life itself, and who love and care for each other in ways that make my heart sing. Like any siblings, though, they have moments when they butt heads, and it’s striking to me how often those spats start with some version of the phrase, “Hey, that’s MINE!”
Sadly, children learn this behavior from grown-ups. MY car. MY house. MY money. MY rights. MY tax dollars. MY opinion, MY perspective, MY prerogatives. My pew. My church. My way or the highway. MINE MINE MINE MINE MINE! (Remind you of anyone?) Try watching the news some time through the lens of “MINE” and see how our childish spats over “MINE” play out. Martin Luther defined sin as being incurvatus ad se, which is a fancy Latin way of saying “curved in on one’s self”. Being warped, in short, by “MINE”.
Scripture, as is so often the case, presents a different perspective:
The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it,
the world, and those who live in it;
for he has founded it on the seas,
and established it on the rivers.
-Psalm 24:1-2 (emphasis added)
This is one reason I never cease to be amazed by Jesus. God from God, light from light, true God from true God, begotten not made, of one being with the Father, through whom all things were made, who had the right to say “MINE!” if anyone ever did, but almost never did. In fact, the only three times Jesus ever says something is “mine” in the Gospels, he’s talking about receiving what is “mine” from the Father and sharing it with us.
Of course, what would one expect from one who was so curved out in love for the world that he died with his arms spread wide on a cross?
Lord Jesus Christ, cure us of the madness of “MINE!” Shape us by your love, and bend us out in love for the world. Amen