I recently happened upon an article that detailed how religion and spirituality were two very distinct things. I found this troubling because I always thought I was in touch with my spiritual side and also walking in a religious path with some structure and purpose. I’ve heard through the years people say they are spiritual when asked if they were religious. Saying it with conviction and a disdain for the question of them being religious, as if it were the worst insult that had ever been lodged their way. This got me thinking about why I have never felt insulted when someone asked me if I was a religious person.
I started to do some research on why people might feel this way and also looking for a better understanding on where I stand. I know how I personally feel, but I wanted to make sure I was accurately describing who I was and how I felt about my relationship with God. It’s not an easy one to explain, as I’m sure everyone who has a relationship with God can attest to. However, through the research on the differences people have placed on religion and spirituality, I can confidently say I am both religious and spiritual. Before I explain how I feel I am both of those, I will share what I found from others perspectives.
First, the easiest way to go about explaining how people put the two in separate corners is to give the basic definition people commonly use for the two words.
Accepting a certain set of beliefs as true and observes a certain set of rituals.
(Generally seen as bad in the western world)
Looking inward towards your own strength and relating to the world and people around you.
(Generally seen as good in the western world)
In the western world people generally associate religion with overly dramatized and organized pushing of beliefs on people, so it is seen as bad. Whereas spirituality is often seen as good because it is associated with inward looking, meditating, harmless individuals. At the very least you can see that as true in most western societies. The reason is because the people with the largest platforms in religion are visibly seen when they take a misstep. Individuals who term themselves as spiritual don’t typically have the same platforms as their loud and flashy religious counterparts. But, like all classifications of people, there are extremists who make tend to put a certain impression out there to the public, regardless of if it actually reflects the majority of those within these subsets.
Religion itself is often seen as bad because of the history of the world is trodden with stories of people using religion, whether just or not, as a way to bend people to their will. Taking advantage of people who may have no other options but to bend to their seniors. Spirituality itself is often seen as a trendy hippies tree hugger kind of way because of people not wishing to participate in conflict and argument. There are issues with both of these. These are usually the extremes of both of these things. Unfortunately a lot of society likes to see in black and white. The people in the middle of these subsets are often just as normal and grounded as you and me. They go forward making way to help others, to grown themselves as human beings, and who know that there are certain things we just can’t avoid if we plan on helping each other.
Christianity to me is both of these things together. I see them as synonymous with each other to accomplish anything in this lifetime with God. We are here because of Him, and we are here because of the spirit He places in all of us. We use these things together to bring love, hope, and peace to the world. On the surface it may not seem like a peaceful world, but there are people on this planet who are working for good as Christians who are not only religious, but spiritual as well.
I see myself as both a religious person and a spiritual person. I am religious because in Christianity there is a simple doctrine in that we believe in God the Father, and we are at His will. He sent His one and only son to sacrifice for all of our worldly sins. We are born anew and capable of continued life serving Him in all His glory. Through that we have a message of hope and strength and light. I am spiritual because I use that inner strength God has placed in me and work to help others who may not have the same opportunities I have. I work for the betterment of others through my found inner peace.
Thanks to God I can see these things and work to not only better myself as a person, but as a Christian, a person faith, a person of spirit. I don’t discount my own abilities, but need to give credit where credit is due. I know there can be much more to religion and spirituality than what I have presented here, but this is what they mean to me and a lot of grounded people I know. Now I know not all will agree with me on these points, but I am happy and content with where I stand in my religion and spirituality. I encourage you to do the same in your own lives.