I was going to post a really bitchy status this morning about religion vs. Spirituality. I did post it actually, but as I was post mortem editing the post I decided to delete it immediately. I didn’t like it. The post didn’t do any good in the world. The only thing the words did was perpetuate hurt and anger in the world. Essentially, the post defined religion (Religion is a cultural system of behaviors and practices, world views, ethics, and social organization that relate humanity to an order of existence. Granted, this definition is from Wikipedia, but I don’t find fault in their wording.) alongside my definition of Spirituality (which points out that Spirituality is a cultural system of behaviors etc. that relate humanity to an order of existence). I also very pointedly declared that if your compare the two like they are absolutely different, I think you’re stupid.
If you’ve done this, I don’t think you’re stupid. At best, I like you’re lazy, especially if your argument is held within a picture. But mostly, I’m offended. I know that all Spiritualists come from a Christian background. I will say that all of the Spiritualists I know have. I’ve gone to Lutheran schools preschool to college. There aren’t many people I know that haven’t come from a Christian background. So, when I hear them argue religion vs. Spirituality, to me it feels like they are arguing Christianity vs. Spirituality, but without the balls to call out Christianity by name. I personally believe that many of these arguments stem from people who’ve had bad experiences within the church, and I’m deeply sorry that that happened.
Christianity is hard to grasp. A bunch of sinners trying to do good in the world. Why aren’t we better? Why don’t we do more? Why don’t we show God’s light more brightly? I wish I could and did, but I’m sick with sin. Yet, I’ve also never proclaimed to be perfect. In fact, merely stating that I am a Christian means that I need a savior, and THANK GOD it’s Christ who saves me. So, yes, I can see how people feel like Christians go to church, feel real good about themselves, and then don’t do anything about their faith during the week. I think that’s the struggle of many Christians. I’m going to ask you to put a pin in that thought process because I do want to say something quick before I go into that.
Going to church isn’t just sitting in a pew, wishing you were somewhere else. It’s the opportunity to learn more about God. All ordained pastors have their Masters of Divinity (Lutheran pastors at least which is where my knowledge comes from). They studied in school for four years and then have continued to be in the Word of God. I can’t think of a pastor I know (and I know a lot simply by being a pastor’s kid) who doesn’t read commentaries and articles and continue their quest for knowledge in their field. They are constantly learning and applying what they know. When you hear a sermon from a pastor, it doesn’t matter how talented they are at preaching. You are hearing God’s Word brought to you by someone who has dedicated their personal and career life to being in God’s Word and helping others do the same. As a church goer, I get the opportunity to learn and grow and be given the tools to apply that knowledge in the real world. Yes, I go and sit and sing hymns, but all of that is nurturing and enriching my faith so that I might better serve God, and when I fail, I find God’s forgiveness and mercy waiting for me.
Back to what I was saying before, it is a struggle to execute living God’s Word. It’s so much easier to just do what I want to do and live for me, not God. I also think it’s a lot harder to see someone living for God than people want to admit. They want protests and marches. They want people screaming from atop soapboxes and shaking Bibles at heathens. They want packed bags and trips to third world countries. Not all Christians are called to be missionaries. And, while I promote proudly declaring Christ, I don’t think it should ever look like shaking your Bible at someone. That doesn’t inspire communication. Protests and marches can be effective, but there are so many ways internally and externally to do God’s Will. We have no idea how someone is living for God. I might look like I’m not doing anything to you, but maybe I’m being a refuge for someone who’s going to go out into the world and do the marching and protesting and missioning. Maybe I’m support for the outgoing. Are maybe my mission field is not a third world country. Maybe it’s my work place or my coffee shop. It doesn’t always look like preaching at people. Sometimes it’s sitting quietly with someone, listening before speaking—helping, doing, and not just shouting things at people, which sometimes feels like the image people have of Christians. They’ll just trim away anything we do that doesn’t fit into the vile, bigoted image they have of us.
The idea that Spirituality is better deeply angers me. This is Google’s top definition for Spirituality: “Spirituality is a broad concept with room for many perspectives. In general, it includes a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves, and it typically involves a search for meaning in life. As such, it is a universal human experience—something that touches us all.” I’m super upset currently, and I’m struggling really hard to be coherent. I apologize in advance if my anger gets the best of me.
This definition is vague. Not in wording, but the idea it encapsulates. It’s all about you feeling whatever you want to feel about a non-descript higher power defined however you want to define it. It’s the religious form of being wishy-washy. This definition says to me that a Spiritualist doesn’t want to put words or terms to it so that whatever they do is right and can’t be deemed wrong. Their form of religion sets them up with no way of actually learning more about their form of faith and also gives them no responsibility. You know when a Christian’s screwing up because we have standards. You don’t know what the hell a Spiritualist is doing because they just do whatever they feel like doing. To label them right or wrong you have to draw from another religious organization—Christianity, Judaism, Muslim, any other system because Spiritualism is groundless. Spiritualism is rooted in a person’s own arrogance. They might honestly believe that they can just go out into nature and be closer to God than someone sitting in a church, a temple, or a mosque, but really what it looks like is that they’ve declared they know everything about an almighty, all-powerful, omnipotent God and no longer have to put in any effort. They’ll just rely on what they think they know and you can’t tell them their wrong and they can’t get any better because they have no innate way of curbing or guiding their behavior.
Can you see why I’m insulted? Or am I just crazy? Whether you think Christianity is truth or just some made up bullshit, you have to agree that it’s set up to improve a person. It hides nothing from you. It says what is right and what is wrong. What’s more is that it doesn’t glorify going out alone into nature and being self-serving. It glorifies God, which is seen by going out and connecting with people, sharing God’s love and forgiveness, helping the broken, feeding the hungry, and doing good in the world as a direct result of what God has done for us, namely Christ’s death and resurrection. Spirituality has nothing on that. It’s arrogance and conceit and a wall someone builds around themselves to keep from being told they are wrong.
There’s no way to put this all into a status. At least, I haven’t found a concise way to do so. But I needed to say it, otherwise it was going to turn dark and ugly in my chest. I don’t want that. I don’t want to hold onto that bitterness and anger. I needed to confess it, first to God, but then also to someone else that wasn’t me. Because after all of that (the obvious anger included) I wanted to be able to say that I can feel God’s forgiveness working in my heart. God forgives me no matter if I feel it or not, but what I’m talking about is a change of mind that I can’t help but feel. Now instead of anger and resentment, I feel a strong desire because of God working in my heart to pray for Spiritualists and others. I pray that they come to know God and that God puts me and other Christians in their lives so that they can be brought into God’s kingdom and that they can begin to understand their misconceptions and what being a Child of God is really about.