I was questioning the difference between being religious and being spiritual.
I tried to figure it out by thinking of people I knew who considered themselves one or the other. The names used are fictitious.
Robert says he’s a born again Christian. He acknowledges Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. He attends church maybe once a month and says he’s spiritual. He believes in prayer and also believes in ‘luck.’ When I asked him to explain how prayer and luck work together, he replied that he prays for what he wants and hopes it’ll happen based on his behavior.
Robert seemed to believe that he could change God’s mind by doing a certain thing, though he also believed he could “will” something to happen just because he wanted it to. He would brag about how lucky he was when something happened that he desired.
Sheila doesn’t believe in any particular religion, attends church twice a year (Easter and Christmas), and says she’s spiritual. She does have a moral compass, though she doesn’t believe in ‘God’ or any god. She believes in doing good and being a nice person. She believes all people go to Heaven, when they die, after paying for wrongs they’ve committed in their life. Sheila once said she was a “spiritual person” and told me that I was “religious.” I thought about that for a while and on another day, I asked her to explain what she considered each to be. After some discussion, her bottom line answer was that if a person went to church more than once a month she considered that person to be religious. Of course, I laughed. She laughed with me because that’s what friends do. We don’t get offended by differences of opinion, instead we accept each other for who we are and what our particular beliefs are.
On another occasion Sheila told me she was a Christian. It really confused me because she doesn’t believe Christ died for her sins and rose that she may have eternal life which is the foundation of Christianity.
Michelle is a Muslim and what I consider “religious” because she follows a set of rules based on her beliefs. She believes people answer to whatever ‘god’ they believe in or according to whatever standard they live by when they die. She sometimes says all gods are the same because there is only one God. I think what she’s saying is that if a person believes in God, regardless of what they say, God is God and there isn’t a difference between the God she believes in or the God someone else may believe in. Discussing the difference between being spiritual or religious with Michelle left more of a grey area. She didn’t really see a difference between the two. She believes that a person follows the laws or rules of their God as their way of showing respect and love towards their God. Whereas in Christianity, Christ came to do away with the law, the rules, and desires us to live with Him in our hearts, which in turn guides our behaviors.
My opinion is that doing something or not doing something strictly because of a rule is following religion or being religious. Religion is tradition. I often use the example of, “I religiously brush my teeth at least twice a day.” Brushing my teeth is a standard I live by which has nothing to do with God.
I consider doing something or not doing something strictly because of love for God and to honor His Word – or belief in any type of higher power, including idols – spiritual.
My thoughts are that obedience to God is a spiritual act and that sacrificing is religious as it’s done because of a rule or law. To put it simply – doing something from the heart is a spiritual act; while doing something from our intellect is religious. Again, this is just my opinion and belief.
Scriptures that came to my mind as I was typing this up were: 1 Samuel 15:22 and Romans 7:6.
1 Samuel 15:22 reads, “And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.” Here we read the Lord would rather have us be obedient than simply following previously stated rules or laws.
Romans 7:6 reads, “But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.” This means we’re delivered from the law, the old rules, and should live according to how our spirit feels in wanting to please the Spirit of God.
I’ve had the discussion of what’s the difference between being spiritual and being religious with several different people. I’d like to know what you think.
What are your thoughts on this article? What does being religious mean to you? What does being spiritual mean to you? I look forward to reading your thoughts.
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(cross-posted from dixonldeborah.com)