By: Gary L. Hutchens
There is a difference between being truly spiritual and just being religious. I suspect that many people have a difficult time clearly differentiating between the two concepts. Most people probably equate religious practices with being spiritual. But a person can be religious without being truly spiritual. However, a person cannot be truly spiritual without also being religious. A truly spiritual person will be a religious person, but a religious person may not necessarily live a truly spiritual lifestyle. Allow me to illustrate by way of a purely hypothetical scenario.
A teenaged boy is the son of deeply committed Christian parents. Respecting his parents, he attends every church service with them. He dresses up in his Sunday-go-to-meetin’ clothes. He bows his head during public prayers. He puts some money in the contribution plate. He even picks up a song book and sings along in the song service.
But the only reason he’s there is because his parents expect him to be there. He doesn’t really want to be there. If they didn’t require it of him, he wouldn’t be there. He finds church services frustrating and boring. He spends every sermon wishing the preacher would hurry up and get finished so he can leave and do something he really wants to do. He goes through a lot of religious exercises, probably more than many church members. But, with his present mindset, would you say he’s a truly spiritual person?
Some people believe in God but have no desire to be a part of what they call organized religion. By that they mean they don’t want to be involved in any church. They may read the Bible regularly, occasionally or not at all. They’ve developed their own personal concept of being a believer that allows them to be comfortable following God their own way while doing their own thing. They insist they don’t need to be in a church building to be close to God. From an objective perspective, it’s a pretty self-serving belief system. Can such a person be considered truly spiritual?
A truly spiritual person’s life is purposefully and consistently focused in a spiritual direction (Rom. 8:5-6). It is his mindset (Col. 3:1-2). The most important aspect of his life is his spiritual life. Indeed, all of his life is directed and guided by his spiritual beliefs. He doesn’t try to take God’s place and call the shots as to what he wants faithfulness to be but surrenders to God’s will as revealed in scripture (Gal. 2:20; 2 Tim. 3:15-17). For a truly spiritual individual, his faith is not just an aspect of his life, his faith is his life!
True spirituality is not just an intellectual belief system. It’s not just the exercising of religious practices. It’s not just going through the right motions, saying the right words and putting on the right appearance. True spirituality is a mindset that directs every aspect of life, a mindset that understands the deep meaning of being created in God’s own image. It is a mindset that is dedicated to serving God faithfully every day. It is a mindset that is focused like a laser beam on getting to Heaven.
Are you living a life that is truly spiritual, or are you just being religious..?
Gary L. Hutchens