Religion is too “Religious”

Esztergom Basilica, HungaryWould you consider yourself a religious person? How about spiritual? Most people don’t believe that there is a difference between these two concepts – but there is a very important difference. Some individuals I have run into are very religious, but not spiritual. However, spiritual people are always religious. To get a better understanding of what I mean, let’s look at the definitions of each word.

According to dictionary.com, “religious” is defined as:

“Having or showing belief in and reverence for God or a deity.”

and “spiritual” is defined as:

“Of, from, or relating to God”

As I said, I have met plenty of people on the blog-o-sphere, at work, and in church who I would consider religious. They show that they have a belief for one God (“for God or a deity” implies singularity). I know people who have the belief and don’t show it; I know people who show the belief but don’t truly have it. Nonetheless, let’s look at what it means to be spiritual.

It is apparent from the definition that being spiritual is different than being religious. To be frank, it is easy to be religious – it doesn’t require any intellectual effort. To be spiritual means understanding you are of or from God – that He is the creator. Such a realization cannot come without being accompanied by feelings of love. Sure, it is easy to say “I love God”, but being a spiritual person means you love God completely, and feel His love in return.

You feel His returning love because a spiritual person forms a relationship with God. Unfortunately, most religious people do not have a healthy relationship with God, that is, they often pray for help and things they think they need (i.e. raise in salary). This is a one-way relationship. Have you ever had a friend that asked you for help and only came to you with their problems? They are likely not your friend anymore because you simply couldn’t put up with the one-way relationship – it becomes tiring.

Well, luckily God doesn’t get tired. He wants us to be more than religious, more than a churchgoer. In fact, if being religious were enough, then Jesus would not have needed to come and teach us. The Jews in first century Palestine were some of the most religious people ever – they believed and showed reverence to God daily. However, Jesus came to show them that they needed to change their thinking to a spiritual paradigm.

Simply put, being religious is not doing justice to God, and it certainly isn’t following the teachings of Christ. Make it a goal to not to just be religious, but to be a spiritual individual as well. You can only benefit as it will help enhance your relationship with God.

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3 Responses

  1. I think we have to be careful not to get to existentialist about this issue. “Religion,” which is often defined as an organized form of belief or worship, actually prevents us from developing our own individualized, experiential forms of “spirituality.” Many people today have tossed out what they call “religion” for “spirituality,” which is just another way of just avoiding the issue. Post-modernism is full of non-religious, “spiritual” people who believe nothing.

    Rather, we have to be careful not to “hold the form of religion but deny its power.”

    I think the point you are meaning to say is valid: that an empty form of religion is lifeless, and that the central point of the Christian religion is a relationship with Jesus. However, the point is also that we are saved as part of a body that includes both a worldwide Church and also 2000 years of saints who have gone before. Religion by itself is not enough, but neither is spirituality enough.

  2. Your words provide clarity to definitions and how they apply to shortcomings of application. Knowledge is power, but people remain powerless…

    Personally, I live life with the hope of being both. Rarely do I apply definitions to my thoughts and actions. Maybe that is my short-coming.

    Sometimes words empower; sometimes words do not.

  3. Well said Justin,
    You caused me to think of another difference between a person who is religious and one who is spiritual. It is where one puts their emphasis. A spiritual person puts their trust completely on God and believes His Word (The Bible) is what God wants everyone to know and understand and that God, Himself, will lead one to understanding. Someone who is religious puts their trust in man. (The minister, Pope, Marry, etc.) Because all men are flawed this leads to many problems. An atheist puts there trust in themselves and their ability to find understanding. (Just threw that in for the heck of it)
    Perhaps it is the second step: the one from religion (We all start there) to spirituality.

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