Main, Opinion, z134
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Spiritual but not Religious? Yes


Church on Lake Bled, Slovenia Credit: Alex Krivec/Flickr/Creative Commons

Church on Lake Bled, Slovenia   Credit: Alex Krivec/Flickr/Creative Commons

Have you heard about SBNR or SBNA? That means “Spiritual But Not Religious” and “Spiritual But Not Affiliated.” The Internet is full of blogs and videos about this, and it seems to be most popular with young adults today “Millennials.”

So is this good for us? Should we run away from it? Is it the enemy of Christianity? Yes, No, and Maybe.

I believe, if we want to talk about something, we should invest some intelligent thought. Emotional storms just generate destructive arguments. So let’s be careful and rational.

True spirituality is not …

1) Dishonest Manipulation.

We all know there are religious cults in the world that are controlling and dangerous. Imagine a person telling you that they are ‘Spiritual’ when they are not. They are lying to make you do what they want. That person is a religious sociopath, and someone we should avoid.

2) Ignorance.

We might use a word like “spiritual’ to win an argument with someone, maybe our parents. I have been guilty of that with small issues, as a dad with my kids. Usually some intelligent person asks me to explain, and then they start laughing. My kids have done that to me. Believe me, it’s a bad idea, and empty talk about the core of your being is a terrible idea.

3) A Rootless Feeling.

If we claim to be anything, we should have a story about how we got there. Among Christians, that is often called a ‘testimony.’ If your ‘spirituality’ came on you like a mist from the ground, or maybe from a book you read once, it can’t seem real. Other people don’t care about some shallow thing you are into these days.

For me, the truth happens when I reverse those ideas. 3) I have a personal story, and that means 2) I know what I’m talking about, I’m not ignorant because I am the expert on me. Also, 1) I can only be honest, when I tell you about some of my personal failures. Dishonest manipulation is usually boastful, but true success comes from trying and failing, and trying again, and finally finding.

I clearly remember when I started my adult life, with clear ideas about how I was going to be successful in the world. I wanted some modest success and I knew how to get there. I planned and I started towards my life goal from about the age of 14, and then I started to see the problem. The direction for my life was clear, but I couldn’t change me, and make myself a traveler on that road. I hope that’s not too abstract; I saw corruption in me, a tendency to 1) and 2 and 3) and also 4) and 5) … whatever they are. I wasn’t a terrible person, but I was smart enough to know that I was tripping myself when I should have been running.

I saw my future, and I saw me, and I saw that one could not fit with the other. That was my crisis.

I looked for a solution, and this is what I found:

Someone in history battled with stifling religion, and struggled for spiritual truth. He said “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24) He said “must.” We have to live the truth in only one spiritual way. There is no other road.

Jesus corrected those religious people so much, that they arrested him and nailed him to a cross.

I became spiritual through Jesus. I can’t boast now and tell you that I am a good person. I have painful memories of personal failures; I was right about my lack of fit with success. Now I am forgiven, and I live in that freedom every day.

So 1), 2) and 3) and all the others:

  1. What I found is true, and it’s good for you too.
  2. I know what I have and I can explain to anyone.
  3. I know the source of my spirituality.

If you are wondering, I go to church because I want to be with other people like me, when we worship the God who saved us. Religion that is stifling and controlling is the enemy of everything I believe.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things. (Philippians 4: 4 to 8)

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