Some will say that being spiritual and being religious is the same thing and that you can't be spiritual without being religious. Some people will say that the SBNR movement is confused people who are not sure what to believe, so they pick and choose from other religions what they like. Then there are others that will say Christians that say they are spiritual but not religious are just too lazy to go to church.
The truth however is that being spiritual and not religious is something that Jesus taught.The word 'religion' comes from the Latin word that means 'to bind' or 'to tie'. Religion binds you to a certain traditional way of thinking. Religion with its immovable dogmas tries to put God into a box with a list of 'features' and 'requirements'. They condemn and judge outsiders and enslave their own. Religion is so busy observing man made rules that they miss God. Religion is spirituality that is made useless because of all the added baggage.
In vain (fruitlessly and without profit) do they worship Me, ordering and teaching [to be obeyed] as doctrines the commandments and precepts of men. You disregard and give up and ask to depart from you the commandment of God and cling to the tradition of men [keeping it carefully and faithfully] - Mark 7:7-8 (AMP)Some will say that only their own religion will lead to God. Others will say that all religions lead to God. I believe that no religion leads to God (not even the Christian religion) as religion (as the word implies) ties you down and tries to limit a limitless God.
Jesus was against organized religion
We read about elders, deacons, and Christian leaders in the Bible, but they were not appointed by Jesus nor did He instruct us to appoint them. Read the article 'One Leader - Jesus'.Jesus called the religious leaders in the religion He was born and raised in hypocrites, pretenders (Matthew 23:15), serpents and 'spawn of vipers' (Matthew 23:33, Matthew 12:34). What Jesus taught was not religion. God is bigger than one religion. Jesus is the answer to all religions.
In the Gospel of Thomas (again, as we have seen, the Word of God is not limited to the Bible), Jesus clearly says what His opinion is about religion.
His disciples asked him and said to him, "Do you want us to fast? How should we pray? Should we give to charity? What diet should we observe?" Jesus said, "Don't lie, and don't do what you hate, because all things are disclosed before heaven. After all, there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed, and there is nothing covered up that will remain undisclosed - Gospel of Thomas, Saying 6Jesus is basically saying, don't worry about religious rules, just be true to who you are.
Jesus said to them, "If you fast, you will bring sin upon yourselves, and if you pray, you will be condemned, and if you give to charity, you will harm your spirits. - Gospel of Thomas, Saying 14Jesus is not saying that it is wrong to pray, but that if you do these things as a religious practice it is harmful to your spirit.
Jesus did not institute religious practices. See 'Did Jesus institute Holy Communion'.
Jesus did not come for the religious ...
When the Pharisees saw this, they asked His disciples, “Why does your Master eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when Jesus heard this, He said, “Those who are healthy have no need for a physician, but [only] those who are sick. Go and learn what this [Scripture] means: ‘I desire compassion [for those in distress], and not [animal] sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call [to repentance] the [self-proclaimed] righteous [who see no need to change], but sinners [those who recognize their sin and actively seek forgiveness]. - Matthew 9:11-13At first glance you might think Jesus was just explaining why He was socializing with sinners. If we look closer then the verse in the middle doesn't fit in there if Jesus was simply explaining that He was reaching out to sinners. Jesus says - "learn what this means" - I did not come for the righteous - those who practice religious practices like sacrificing.
Does that mean that the religious don't need Jesus? No - Jesus said He is the only way to God (John 14:6). That leaves only one possibility - Jesus was sarcastic. The religious think they are so righteous because of what they do - they feel entitled to judge others.
The Christian religion don't sacrifice animals any more, but there are still tons of religious practices that you are expected to do -
- join a church
- attend every Sunday service
- attend the weekly home groups
- give 10% of your money to the church (see the Truth about Tithing)
- do everything the pastor says (see One Leader)
- etc, etc. etc.
- and if you don't do it - you are less of a Christian. You are judged by other Christians.
"I desire compassion - people that love others and don't judge others. Not religion with followers that judge those who do not follow their religious practices". - Jesus (my own translation).
Jesus did not start churches
Jesus did not start one single church (as we have churches today). He did not instruct us to attend a weekly Sunday morning church. He did have a following, but the following consisted of a small group that He was teaching to teach others (making disciples - what we are also instructed to do). The bigger groups that sometimes gathered were people that he taught and healed, but the group changed as He moved from one place to another. It was not a specific group that gathered on a weekly basis. Before He left and moved to the next area He did not appoint leaders or deacons in that group.
Jesus used the word 'church' only twice and only in the Gospel of Matthew. In both cases the original word He used for 'church' was 'ekklēsia'
a calling out, that is, (concretely) a popular meeting, especially a religious congregation (Jewish synagogue, or Christian community of members on earth or saints in heaven or both): assembly, church.
Jesus did not appoint pastors, deacons or church leaders and instructed us not to! Read 'Only One Leader, Jesus'.
Jesus instructed us not to build churches, but to make disciples - that means teach others to teach others. That is not organized religion, but a spiritual movement.
It is no longer about a specific religion - it is spiritual
But a time is coming and is already here when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit [from the heart, the inner self] and in truth; for the Father seeks such people to be His worshipers. God is spirit [the Source of life, yet invisible to mankind], and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth - John 4:23-24 (AMP)Jesus was talking to a Samaritan woman at the well. She asked Him where is the correct place to worship (John 4:20-22). The reason she asked this was because in the Samaritan religion that used the Samaritan Pentateuch, the correct place to worship was at Mount Gerizim instead of Mount Zion as described in the Pentateuch used by the Jews.
Jesus did not 'correct' her and gave her instructions on the correct way to worship. He clearly says it is now about being spiritual - it is no longer about religion and worshiping according to specific dogma.
Think of the parable Jesus told of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). In the parable the one that acted in love and had the approval of God was someone from another religion. What was important is not that he belonged to the correct religion but that he loved God and he loved others.
In Matthew 8:5-13 we read how a roman centurion asked Jesus to heal his servant boy. Even though Romans believed in a great number of deities, Jesus admired his faith. Jesus was not concerned about changing his religion, but simply connecting him to the real God.
I have other sheep beside these] that are not of this fold. I must bring those also, and they will listen to My voice and pay attention to My call, and they will become [b]one flock with one Shepherd. - John 10:16 (AMP)Jesus was talking to the Jews when he said 'Not of this fold'. He was talking about people of other cultures, people with other ideas of God - see Knowledge of God beyond the Bible.
ConclusionWhen you are spiritual and not religious, you are not lazy or confused, you are obedient to Jesus Christ. Don't fee pressured into following a religion because most people do - don't follow the crowd.
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