Monday, Jan 13, 2020. What things I own plays an important role for my life. Do I live in a rented flat or do I own a house. Can I afford to buy an expensive car? Do I have enough money to afford holidays and travel?
There is the human struggle to earn enough to be able to buy food and water, clothing and shelter, and to afford some things which make life easy and enjoyable. Let us think about ownership and possessions …
Important Social Principles …
Ownership is an important social principle. We can possess things, land, or rights. We can even possess animals. In history, the principle has even been applied to humans, which have been possessed by others.
Without ownership it is difficult to act. Ownership is an organization principle for our social interaction. When I put effort into something, when I build something, I can own it. Then, I can also sell it to others, who give me something which they own. Using the invention of money, values are converted into some type of currency, and we use money to efficiently organize our exchange of value and possessions.
At the same time it is a basic question, in what sense possessions define myself. Do I own the possessions, or do my possessions own me? Our possessions interact with our psychological and mental dimension. Responsibility for my possessions is influencing my life. Fear or concern about my possessions can influence my well-being.
The principle of Ownership has been questioned several times by social visions throughout history. Can we build a society without ownership, where everything belongs to everyone? In this case you need to find an alternative to decision making on how to use things, how to sell things, how to distribute money and value. Kommunism has tried to abolish ownership in some phases of its existence - not with much success. Motivation of humans is strongly linked to ownership.
At the same time, also the biblical texts are putting ownership into a particular perspective. They do not question ownership itself, they acknowledge it as important principle and demand full truthfulness and reliability of humans with respect to ownership of things. At the same time the bible reminds us that all what exists is given to us. God is the ultimate owner of this world. We are just his children, created beings, given a place to live in and take care of. The sabbath year of the Old Testament gives a limit to ownership and the collection of wealth, which is a healthy boundary to human greed.
Jesus Temptation …
It is interesting and exciting to read the discussion between Jesus and the devil in Matthew 4, where ownership is the main topic. Let us listen to this important passage:
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” (Matthew 4, 8-10)
There are several things in this little story, which can make you think. Does the devil own this world? Does he really have the right to give it to people? Where is the limit of this, it cannot be completely true! Is he just trying to cheat Jesus?
Also, what does it mean to fall down and worship him? To fall down means to acknowledge someone as the Lord, the king, as the person who can command and has power. Worship is an expression of personal dedication, it shows that I am astonished and that I admire and marvel someone or something. Only God deserves this central place in our life! Why should I give the devil this important role? Why should Jesus do so?
How can it be that Jesus is challenged like this at all? Is it really a challenge? Did this take place for us, is it that Jesus hat do experience the thoughts and challenges and temptations which usually influence humans, who much less than him can see the majesty and magnificence of the eternal God and Lord?
Here, ownership of things, of fame, of recognition and value is the core temptation under discussion. If ownership of anything in this world interfers with the role of God, the eternal creator, the beginning and ultimate purpose of all what is, we are in trouble. But it does not need to become like that. Living faith and trust in God through Jesus and the holy spirit can keep us save and sound, today and tomorrow. (Roland Potthast)
This is part of the trilogy project “Faith of a Scientist”.