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Spiritual But Not Religious


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. These however were not appointed by Jesus and as we have seen, not everything in the Bible is the 'Word of God' (read the article here).

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 6 
Jesus 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 14
Jesus 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 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'

ek-klay-see'-ah:
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.
The core of the original word used by Jesus means 'calling out' - a following. It could also mean a religious congregation or church, but if we look at the rest of the teachings of Jesus it is clear that Jesus meant a following and not a church as we have churches today.

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. There is a lot more on this topic (other cultures)  that we will look at in a article that is coming soon.

Conclusion

When you are spiritual and not religious, you are not lazy or confused, you are obedient to Jesus Christ.


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