One of the fascinating features of child development is the growing sense of self and ownership. What lesson do moms and dads try to teach their two-year-old children? “Share your toys!” But it is a learning process occurring in a phase during which a child is egocentric and unable to differentiate between self and environment. As a parent I discovered that the concept of sharing fell on deaf ears until my child was able to grasp the concept of ownership. Only when a child fully appreciates that “this blanky is mine” can we work on the virtue of giving or sharing it with someone else. Until then, the Toddler Property Laws describe the scene:
1. If I like it, it’s mine.
2. If it’s in my hand, it’s mine.
3. If I can take it from you, it’s mine.
4. If I had it a little while ago, it’s mine.
5. If it’s mine, it must never appear to be yours in any way.
6. If I’m doing or building something, all the pieces are mine.
7. If it looks just like mine, it’s mine.
The concept of Christian stewardship is an advanced adult value, based on the biblical truth that “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it” (Psalm 24:1). Aha! We discover that in fact what we possess is not ours but God’s, and we are managers and stewards of it.
It seems to me that the Presbytery of San Francisco, and sadly many other judicatories around the church, needs a reminder of Who owns our church buildings and possessions.