Simple Spirituality and NASCAR Racing

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.”

Why?

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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Are You Spiritual?

Are You a Spiritual Person?

Gal 6:1 ESV – Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.

There are many who are overtaken in faults within the church today, but they do not get restored. Why is that? Are there no spiritual people in the church? Or, do we not know what it means to be spiritual, and therefore cannot find anyone to restore them? Are preachers the only ones who can be spiritual?

It is those who are spiritual who are to do the restoring. Who are they?

Taken within the context, they are the ones who manifest the previous qualities of the fruit of the spirit (5:16, 22) 

“Spiritual” is an after-Pentecost word—it does not show up in the Gospels nor in the LXX.

There is a difference between being spiritual and being religious. Spiritual = of things pertaining to spirit. Religious = of things pertaining to formal duty.

There are many religious people who are not spiritual.

There are many spiritual people who are not religious.

There are many spiritual people who are religious.

The Bible distinction is not between spiritual/religious (the world has this figured out), but between spiritual/carnal. It is either one or the other. It is not possible to be carnally spiritual or spiritually carnal (1 Cor. 3:1).

We often assume Christian = spiritual. But we know from our experience that is not true. It is possible to be a Carnal Christian (as we can see from this verse in Corinthians).

Now, here is an interesting thing for your consideration: Carnality is defined in the Bible, but spirituality is not!! Spirituality is inferred and implied, but not defined. Carnality, however, is clearly explained.

Characteristics of Carnality: 1Cor. 3: 2-3 

We could say here that Paul is referring to babies, and we know that babies need to be cared for.

Babies–

  • Need milk (1Peter 2:2—there is a place for milk)
  • Can’t eat meat (Heb. 5:12-14)
  • Manifest envying, strife, divisions (1Cor. 3:3) [this usually comes from the main characteristic of the ‘me’ generation–MINE!] {also notice that these are contrary to the fruit of the spirit}

Where does carnality come from? It comes from where you place your mind–what you allow your mind to dwell on. You become what you feed your mind on.

 Rom. 8:5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.

The word translated ‘mind ‘ is phroneo (fron-eh’-o); [from NT:5426]; to exercise the mind, i.e. entertain or have a sentiment or opinion; by implication, to be (mentally) disposed (more or less earnestly in a certain direction); intensively, to interest oneself in (with concern or obedience).

How do we move from being carnal to becoming spiritual? By no longer being carnally minded.

1. Repent (metanoia = change your mind) [this is definitely a religious word] Decide that you no longer want to be carnal, but that you want to be spiritual (though not necessarily religious).

2. Reveal–ie, confess your carnality–James 5:16 (exomologeo = speak it out)

3. Renew your mind Rom. 12:2 (Jesus said to cleanse the inside first–Matt. 23:25-26)

4. Replace your thinking style–Col. 3:2

5. Reflect–ie, take control of your thoughts (Phil. 4:8)

Notice that the last three are all about what goes on in your head. This is your area of control.

Someone may say, “But, I have no control over what comes into my mind.”

That may be true. But, you don’t have to pull up a chair and offer that thought any hospitality!

 And anytime you find yourself moving into carnality, you can use this to change your mind and your practice. It may be difficult at first, because you’ve had many years of practicing being carnally-minded. But, stay with it, and you will soon find yourself in a spiritual condition you may have only dreamed about.

NOTE: This is the sixth in a weekly posting on the Epistle to the Galatians. I am not the only one who is writing on this book. There are others who will be posting something on their blog each day of the week. We are each bringing something that the Lord gives us from chapter six of the epistle. You will be greatly blessed and encouraged, and your heart will be filled if you will take the time to read each day’s posting from one of the other saints involved in this collective effort. Put this link in your “favorites” or on your link bar at the top of your browser: http://www.philter48.com/bbs/ and make it a point to visit everyday.