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Letting go of “mine”

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When my sons were young, we would go for ice cream treats from time to time. With each boy, we saw the “mine” phase play out in these encounters.

Dad says, “Let’s go for a treat”– meaning unusual gift, something special. Dad joyfully gifts his child with ice cream and asks his happy child for a lick, to which the ever-grateful child says, “No! It’s mine!”

Dad is thinking, “Whose idea was it to go for a treat? Who paid for the treat? Nothing about this is yours!” Then out of obligation and the hope of ensuring future treats, the child “shares” the treat with Dad.

If you’re a parent, you’ve had this experience. You may have even thought, “Where did I go wrong in my parenting?” You didn’t. I know I’m assuming a few things, but go along with me for few moments.


Mine syndrome

As adults, we still struggle with “mine” syndrome. It’s not that we’re incapable of genuine acts of sharing; it’s that it does not come naturally for us. Culturally, we’re told that we deserve everything we have and even some things we don’t have. Spiritually, our fallen nature created in us a sense of incompleteness that we seek to change by acquiring things, experiences, accolades and accomplishments. We want to feel and demonstrate that we’re unique from all others. Don’t believe me? Look at Facebook.

Pastor and author Jon Tyson described this human pursuit at a seminar I attended: “The church’s challenge is to cultivate the lordship of Christ over people who have been carefully crafted and conditioned to worship themselves.” If I am worshipping myself, “mine” is a natural outcome of my worship.

We’ve become convinced that we are our own moral centre. So to deny that which we feel enhances our self worship becomes “sin.” To deny my sexual desires is “sin.” To deny my material or experiential desires is “sin”– at least that’s what we’re told.


The power of the cross

The challenge of the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ, is that until we release “mine,” we cannot receive or enjoy the beauty of what God has done for us. To release “mine” is to submit to one who created us. When we let go, we discover what we long for most. It’s a move from worshipping self to worshipping our Creator, Redeemer and King.

That’s why I love the cross: the simple image of Christ’s atoning sacrifice on my behalf; a symbol of horror, glory and humility. He did for me what I could not do for myself. There is no “mine” in the cross. It is the place where my self-preoccupation comes to die so I can embrace life in my Saviour.

That’s why I enjoy songs (like this one by Chris Tomlin) that draw us into the power, reality and joy of the cross, from “mine” to Jesus. They redirect our worship to the one who deserves it, the one who died for us and rose again to new life.

At the cross, at the cross
I surrender my life
I’m in awe of You
I’m in awe of You
Where Your love ran red
And my sin washed white
I owe all to You
I owe all to You, Jesus


At the cross, I surrender my life. I lay it all down. I crucify “mine.” I die.

The cross is where our independence and self-reliance is broken. The cross is where sin dies and new life begins. The cross is where we lay down our burdens. The cross is where our pain is washed away. The cross is where God makes reconciliation possible.

The cross was God’s plan to reveal himself to us, as Paul teaches the Colossians: “For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross. This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions” (Colossians 1:19–21, NLT).

When we embrace the cross and all that God accomplished through Christ, we can sing with joy and passion Tomlin’s aptly penned bridge:

Here my hope is found
Here on holy ground
Here I bow down
Here I bow down
Here arms open wide
Here You save my life
Here I bow down
Here I bow down.


Willy Reimer is executive director of the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches. He lives in Calgary.

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