The more I dig into this concept of the spiritual person, the more I realize how uncomplicated it really is.
Because of my religious upbringing, and my dedication to church work, I have kept spirituality within a religious context.
One of the favorite thoughts of the past 10 years has been the contrast of spirituality with religiosity. People say things like, “What is the difference between being religious and being spiritual?” Or, “I’m spiritual but not religious.” There has been a strong move to separate the two in our thinking and practice. This is good.
Can religion be separated from spirituality?
The answer should be an obvious, “Yes,” since we all know many religious people who haven’t an ounce of spirituality in their life.
However, the flip side is much more open to debate, because it is harder to define–“Does spirituality hinge on religion? Must one be religious in order to be spiritual?” A definition of terms is required for a meaningful discussion of these questions.
“Spiritual” is the term I am seeking to define with this series of articles. For the moment, I will leave it as “a person who manifests the positive qualities of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (We have not yet determined if ALL of these must be present in order to be considered spiritual.)
“Religion,” however, is a bit more difficult to limit, because we use the word and its cognates in a broad range of concepts. For instance, “He is religious with his workouts at the gym.” “She is religious with her diet.” “NASCAR racing is his religion.”
The underlying/overriding idea is that of ‘regularity’ or ‘discipline.’ Due to the original meaning of the word “religion,” we can also see the idea of ‘worship’ in these various uses.
Therefore, I return to, “Must one be religious in order to be spiritual?”
If spirituality is defined as and by the characteristics listed, and religious is defined by regularity and discipline, then the answer should also be an obvious “Yes.”
Look at the list of positive qualities and point out which one comes naturally to a human. Not one. Each one of those are qualities that must be cultivated, developed over time–ie, disciplined.
Therefore, if one is to become a spiritual person, one must possess the discipline of practice in order to develop each particular quality. It is the “discipline of practice” that makes one ‘religious.’ However, it is the realm of that which we practice that makes all the difference. This is what sets most of the Judeo-Christian people apart from most other religious practitioners.
For most Christians, their practice consists of going to church, Bible study, prayer, and fellowship–commonly referred to as religious activities. For many other religions outside the three Judeo-Christian ones, their practice is focused on developing the qualities of love, joy, peace, patience, etc.
This ought not to be. It should be the same for all who are seeking spirituality or godliness.
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1 Co 3:11-15
For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.
14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. KJV
This passage is usually taken to apply to our own life and what we do with it in the Lord. It is important that we pay attention to what we are doing with the gifts God has given us. But this passage does not directly address our individual walk with God.
Paul is writing about the work he has done among the Corinthians. He laid the foundation (v. 10). The foundation of all our endeavors is Jesus Christ. Any other foundation is built upon shifting sand and is destined to fail. Our hope is built on nothing less than the blood of Jesus. Make sure your foundation is solid.
If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do? KJV
Paul is addressing the work that we do with others. Each of us should be working with at least one other person, helping them to grow in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(You are discipling someone, aren’t you?)
Make sure that you are building something that will last, that will stand the test of fire. Our denominational doctrines about the right way to be baptized, or to take communion, or to get raptured, or any of the other things we rely on to make us different from other Christians will not help us or our disciples stand in the day of adversity.
Here’s the SHOCKER: when that person falls because the work was not solid, you are held accountable!
In an age of “no-fault” religion, that is not welcome news. I didn’t say that. It’s in the Bible. Read the passage for yourself.
No. Build something solid. Build upon the Word of God. Build upon the promises of God. Build upon the commands of the Lord. Teach people how to overcome the problems in their life. Teach them how to get control fo their anger. Teach them how to handle their finances. Teach them how to be good parents. Teach them how to be a good spouse. Teach them how to handle their business in a godly manner. Teach them how to be godly in all that they say, think, or do.
Teach them all that the Lord commanded us (Matt. 28:20).
Don’t forget to teach yourself at the same time.