I have seen this option on various forms. “Spiritual but not Religious”. Sometimes it irritates me. Sometimes it makes me laugh. Sometimes I want to get inside the brain of the person who checks this option with their resolute conviction. Why??
I mean, I get some of it. You want some of the wonder and awe of God, but not the “organized religion”. Or you like to toy with the idea of some bigger force of nature out there, without having to fully align yourself to some sort of doctrine. Or maybe it’s that your family of origin believed, and you grew up in some sort of Sunday School, but don’t want to be held to an organized, dry, preachy sorta life now. You’d rather connect with “your god” out in nature. When you choose. How you choose.
That’s just the thing. It’s really not about you. At all. Sorry to burst your bubble. I think it’s a bit selfish of you. A bit self-centered. I think you’ve closed yourself off to the wonder, awe, and miraculous power of Christ. In you. Oops. I lost you, didn’t I?
Track with me for a minute. The God of the Old Testament is still God. Now. He wasn’t an angry, spiteful, God, no matter what you feel you’ve experienced of Him. He loved His people. His creation. He carried them out of Egypt. He showed them He loved them. He provided for them. He wanted to dwell with them. He gave them instructions in the desert to build a tabernacle so He could dwell among them. There were years and years that the people did their own thing. Chose their own ways. Their own earthly kings. They were spiritual, but not religious. Still God wanted to be even closer. He was pleased to send His Son, Jesus, to walk on the earth. Yes, in nature too. And Jesus died a horrible death, taking the punishment for all the ways we don’t walk in God’s ways. But He didn’t stay dead. He was stronger than even that. Stronger than all of the death you can think of. All of the things that kill your spirit and distract you and pull you out of that “spiritual” space. Jesus was more than that. And when He was dying on the cross the curtain of the temple was torn. The temple where God dwelled. With His people. Because that separation was no longer needed. Is no longer needed. He is pleased to dwell in us. Now. Wherever we are. He wants to be that close. Because of His love. And that’s how we can love, only because He showed us how. And that’s how we can be “spiritual”, because it’s His spirit connecting with the Holy Spirit in us.
What should our response be out of that? What should we be prompted to do out of that knowledge? Go jump in a church just to be there? Go to the mountains alone to capture that feeling? Go study theology to fully understand more? Maybe. But that’s not all, or enough, or the end. He doesn’t want to dwell with us for us to keep it to ourselves or add some system of behavior or schedule of classes or be able to check a box on a form. He doesn’t give us His spirit to make us religious. He gives us His spirit to know Him, to dwell with Him, to see Him in absolutely everything, everyday, everywhere. To seek Him and know Him.
I fear for this “Spiritual but not Religious” generation. A generation defining who they believe god to be. Yes, lower case g. Because our small pea brains weren’t meant to be the ones defining Him. Capital H. The mighty God who created, who shaped the mountains and poked the lakes in and drew the rivers and marked where the oceans should stop, that God, wants to fill you. Wants to dwell in you. Wants a relationship with you.
As this generation defines their own god, what is going to happen to the next generation? God told us, tells us, as we walk and talk and lay down and get up, tell them (the next generation) about His glorious deeds. So if we’re telling them about a god we can manage and add on to our life when and how we choose and experience him randomly at moments, well… makes my heart hurt. Are you just tinkering with the spiritual? Choosing to confine Him in a box or your choosing. Choosing to be spiritual but not religious.
Stand. Today. In the wonder and awe that yes, He did create. He did dwell. He does dwell. He will dwell. He is a mystery. He is continuing to reveal Himself to you. Now. In everything. Do you look for Him? Do you hear Him? Do you respond when He calls? Do you open your heart, your mind, your all to Him? Stand and declare yes, I am spiritual AND in a relationship with Jesus.