In Galatians 1, Paul tells how he turned from the "religion of I," to accept the faith of God. During his years of persecuting the Church, Paul was captivated by selfish motives, driven by legalistic Judaism. Serving ourselves hinders our effectiveness and skews our priorities as Christians.
The religion of I is opposed to the church of God: Church is not individualistic. It is a community, and it requires commitment. To find community in a church, you need to make a commitment, get involved, take the initiative, and have time together. The religion of I tends to sit back and let it all flow by. “What’s in it for me?” is the great question, not “What I can give?”
The religion of I is competitive: Whose Greek is the best? Whose is the best and biggest church? Whose prayer is the best? All this is vanity, for what is best with regard to God is defined only by God. When we are captivated with the religion of I, what matters is what other I’s think, not what the Great I Am thinks. We strive for heaven in order to impress earth, and heaven is not impressed.
The religion of I is zeal without knowledge: It is passionate, but it is the kind of zeal that blows up buildings and causes wars and fights. The solution is not relativistic tolerance or a vague “anything goes” attitude. The solution is zeal for what is good and godly. No one can be too zealous for love or too zealous for the gospel, but the religion of I is zeal without knowledge; it is barking up the wrong tree.
Christians, by the power of the Spirit, must live on the side of the faith of God, not on the side of the religion of I. We must have Christ, by his Word, revealed in our hearts (our minds and feelings) so that our wills are set upon God, not ourselves.
This article is adapted from chapter 7 of No Other Gospel by Josh Moody.