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Bounds Of Believing And Being: Religion And Spirituality

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In life with full of uncertainties and intact prejudices, do we even wonder if our journey is under the prospect of spirituality or just religiosity? Or it doesn’t just cross our mind since we thought that it is the same? If this is the case then we are oblivious to fact that there’s an unseen veil of ignorance that hinders us from knowing and experiencing the truth about life.

People are often caught up in the set of beliefs they accepted as their culture and traditions. They are so attached in conforming to the way majority thinks and works—the tangible and interpersonal aspect of faith. This is religiosity, the outworking of the principles or moral codes governing groups of people. Mistaking this as the center of their spirituality but in reality it only plays an essential role in the growth of our spirit.

The focus of religion is the practice of beliefs that are usually influenced by surrounding factors. Nowadays, there are many religious people who failed to find the empty piece within them even in constant pursuit. Remember, all beliefs are not equal. Some are true and others are false. We can believe every philosophy there is, but don’t leave the fact that believing something whether the truth or not is the completion of our spirituality. Rather, it is by being set apart from worldly affairs and more in tuned with the righteous will of your Creator.

Unlike religiosity, spirituality is very personal—it is your deep connection with God through intercessions, devotions and submission to His commands. However, some are blinded by this due to the benefits that they gain in being religious. But if your motives are filled with purely spiritual longing then you are mindful of the things that you can sacrifice or give not on what we can get because spirituality is the walk of disciple, in faith, in response to the call of Christ to lay down our lives.

Many will disapprove of this arguing that the transformation of this world requires us to tag along otherwise we are wrong, but keep in mind that our own soul and spirit came from the breath of our only exalted Creator. Therefore, it will only be fulfilled and completed not through the world’s progress nor any practice of majority but only through right relationship to his Master. Paul even reminded us in the Bible, Romans 12:1-2: ‘I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” [English Standard Verion]

Religion and spirituality are two related yet distinct terms associated with faith. Religiondenotes ‘a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, usually involving devotional and ritual observances and a moral code.’ In contrast, spirituality can be defined as ‘the quality of being spiritual’ (both definitions adapted from

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Based on these definitions, the major difference between religion and spirituality is one of believing versus being. Religion’s focus is the content of one’s belief and the outworking of that belief; spirituality’s focus is the process of becoming more attuned to unworldly affairs. It’s possible to be religious without being spiritual and spiritual without being religious.

A religious person accepts a certain set of beliefs as true and observes a certain set of rituals. A person of the Christian religion believes Jesus is God’s Son and observes baptism and Communion. A person of the Muslim religion believes Allah is God and observes Ramadan and salat.

In contrast, spirituality is the fact of being spiritual and is usually evidenced by the act of doing spiritual things. Praying, meditating, reading Scripture, and giving to a charity are all things that a ‘spiritual’ person might do.

Spirituality is more abstract than religion. Religion usually promotes a creed and has a defined code of ethics; it is tangible. Spirituality exists in the nebulous realm of the undefinable. Because of this, an increasing number of people in postmodern Western culture view spirituality as good and religion as bad. Ambiguity is ‘in’ today; dogmatism is ‘out.’

Yet neither spirituality nor religion is inherently good or bad. The practice of religion may lead to good (the founding of Christian hospitals) or to evil (the mass suicide in Jonestown). Likewise, one person may claim that feeding the poor is a spiritual act, while someone else claims that murder is a spiritual act.

Biblically speaking, religion and spirituality should be united, and the end result should be good works to the glory of God (Matthew 5:16). James 1:27 teaches, ‘Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.’ Here religion is associated with the application of one’s belief in ways that help the needy and lead to a more spiritual lifestyle. The verse also carries an implicit warning against false or empty religion. Since James specifies ‘pure’ and ‘undefiled’ religion, there must also exist ‘impure’ and ‘defiled’ religion. True religion is godly; empty religion only has ‘the appearance of godliness’ (2 Timothy 3:5).

Spirituality is also defined more clearly in Scripture. There’s nothing vague about Romans 12:1-2: ‘I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind’ (emphasis added). True Christian spirituality is to dedicate ourselves to the worship and service of God and to be supernaturally transformed.


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