Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Self-Interested Self-Denial

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.


  1. Well written. I agree.
    Self- denial is an odd word. I was never familiar with its definition before googling it after reading your article. It means unselfishness, which makes sense in your context. However, the word sounds like denying the existence of oneself, which probably belongs to another faith, not Christianity.

  2. Actually, it often seems like Christ calls us to follow him precisely because we benefit from it. It's very common for NT writers to motivate their readers with the language of "gain" and "reward."

    For more, see Christian Hedonism

  3. It may be that the message on the poster is for the person who will meet Christ by joining the group. That is the MOST special thing that could happen to anyone!


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