I RECENTLY READ that English is the only language where “I” is capitalized no matter where it appears in a sentence.
A quick search seems to confirm this information, but I am not a language expert.
Why do I use “I” midsentence instead of “i”?
Some say the reason is simply that “I” is easier to read than “i” and the distinction has nothing to do with philosophy, culture, or an overinflated ego. Maybe; maybe not — i’m not sure.
Regardless, in an article written by Sandy Mayle (“The Little i, Alliance Life,” Jan/Feb 2019, 4-6), she makes a thought-provoking spiritual application of our unique English penchant for capitalizing “I.”
At first, she writes, “Because of sin, we are all by nature ‘capitalists’ and need be ‘decapitalized’ and become an ‘i’ instead of an ‘I.’ ”
Immediately, i found myself agreeing with her.
She quotes Philippians 2:6-8, “(Jesus), though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (ESV).
And then she writes, “The I AM became i, God the Son making himself lower case for me, for each of us. The only one who truly deserves to be capitalized became the only perfect i the world has ever known.”
But just when i found myself agreeing with Mayle again, she took me deeper.
She points out that while John’s gospel is true, “He (Jesus) must become greater, but I must decrease” (3:30), decreasing isn’t the end goal.
She says God doesn’t call us to a “reduction in size,” or “decapitalization.”
Becoming an “i” instead of an “I” isn’t enough. Instead, God calls us to die to ourselves, not merely reduce ourselves. And i agree.
The Apostle Paul wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). It wouldn’t be better to proclaim “i no longer live.”
Instead, it’s better to proclaim, “Christ lives in me.”
I found myself experimenting with Mayle’s ideas a little bit.
Paul’s anguished cry: “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24). Changing the “I” to an “i” won’t deliver; only Jesus delivers.
The old hymn: “Just as i am without one plea, but that thy blood was shed for me, and that thou bid’st me come to thee. O lamb of God, i come, i come!”
Maybe it is better for the little “i” to come to Jesus.
Don’t get me wrong, i’m not advocating an “I” for an “i.”
And that wasn’t Mayle’s goal either.
She gave me food for thought, and i wanted to share.
Issues of Faith is a rotating column by five religious leaders on the North Olympic Peninsula. The Rev. Greg Reynolds is pastor of Joyce Bible Church. His email is [email protected]