I’ve got to admit it’s getting better, (better)
A little better all the time (it can’t get no worse)
I have to admit it’s getting better, (better)
It’s getting better since you’ve been mine
— The Beatles (Lennon/McCartney), “Getting Better” from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Why do we feel so compelled to own things?
I’ll be honest: my chief obsession is books. The problem isn’t reading: I read a little more than a book per week. The problem is my craving to own the books. I’ve turned down people who have wanted to lend me copies of books so I could by my own copy instead. Sure, I’ve justified it by claiming I need to mark it up, but need might be overstating the case a little bit. I’ve even stayed away from libraries. Why borrow a book when you can buy one?
I’ve been working on my ownership attitude. In fact, I have a book checked out of Sarnia Public Library right now. In the words of the Beatles, “I’ve got to admit it’s getting better”.
. . .
One of the reasons Jerusalem was taken into captivity was so the land could enjoy its Sabbath rest Israel had deprived it from for so many years (2 Chronicles 36:12). God gave Israel instructions on how to care for the land, but they assumed an ownership mentality and ignored the true Owner’s words.
This time, things were going to be different. God reminds the people (while they’re still in exile!) that when they return to divvy up the land between the various tribes, they were to begin by setting aside some of the land for Yahweh. This land was to be “a holy district” (v. 1): a 33,500 acre (thanks to Daniel Block for the calculations) gift back to the Giver.
. . .
I think the key to overcoming the ownership-mentality that pervades our culture can be found in that Beatles tune I quoted up at the top of this entry. (Forget the Bible code, someone write about the Beatles code!)
The line: “Since you’ve been mine.”
We need to constantly remind ourselves that we own nothing. Sure, I’ve paid money for my house, my car, my keyboard, and canoe—but God’s the real owner. Everything we experience is a gift first given to Adam in the garden:
Fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth. (Genesis 1:28, NRSV)
Paul reminds us, years later, of this important gift:
Everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, provided it is received with thanksgiving. (1 Timothy 4:4, NRSV)
I think that once we belong to God (since He’s been mine), he will remind us how everything belongs to him—if we would only listen to the voice that speaks contrary to the winds of consumer-culture.
. . .
Lord God, help us to hear and to obey your voice in the midst of all the other messages that encircle us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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