The entrance to our local library has a flyer posted: “Do something special for yourself. Join our Christian book discussion group.” While I am thrilled to be living in the kind of neighborhood that has a Christian book discussion group meeting in a public library, the advertising approach struck me as odd. Our culture is so saturated with self-centeredness that even a group that gathers to discuss a faith that requires self-denial appeals to self-centeredness to gain members.
Yes, there usually is some self-interest even in faith-centered activities. I might pray, study the Bible, or get involved in ministry out of obedience to God, but these activities still benefit me. Getting to know my Lord better is doing something special for myself. But motives are tricky things. When I follow Christ, I benefit, but if I follow Christ because I benefit, I am doing it for the wrong reasons.