Is there a difference? Yes, there is a HUGE difference. I have heard hundreds of religious people call themselves spiritual. And they really think that they are. Many think that ‘spiritual’ means deeply religious. And many think that the words are interchangeable with no difference. Let’s clear that up.
To be religious means to follow the doctrine of a particular religious organization such as Anglican, Baptist, Catholic or Protestant. Each religion has their specific sets of rules. Usually you are required to attend your place of worship every Sunday plus certain other days of obligation (ie. Christmas, Easter) to attend service. To be married in your particular place of worship, there are generally rules and qualifications to be met. Other requirements such as christenings are common. If you faithfully follow the rules of your religious organization, then you are ‘religious’.
Religions are man-made. Jesus never said that they way to heaven was to build brick and mortar buildings, create rituals and give it a name. Jesus was not Anglican, Baptist, Catholic or Protestant. Many people adhere to the practice of their religions faithfully and with the best of intentions.
So what, then, is spirituality? In Genesis (1:26-28, 9:6), we are told that God created human beings to be like God. Do you think that this is referring to our ‘meatsuit’? No! This is speaking of our soul, our spirit. Your spirit is made like God’s! Your spirit lived before it joined your current ‘meatsuit’ and it will live long after it leaves your body. Some people realize that our purpose in this life is to learn lessons that will provide spiritual growth – growth for our spirit – which brings us closer to God. In order to learn lessons, it was necessary for us to agree to a ‘veil of forgetfulness’. If we remembered who we truly are, then we would have lost the opportunity to learn the lessons that we desired for our spiritual growth. Our spirit often guides us into situations and relationships that will provide the opportunity to work on the lessons we desired. Our spirit also tries to communicate with us, if we stop to listen. To be spiritual means that you are consciously aware that you are a spirit, first and foremost, and that you chose to attach to this body and experience this life. Being spiritual means you consciously work on developing communication with your spirit and God through methods such as meditation. When you fully integrate this knowledge into your life, your priorities and outlook on many things changes completely.
It is virtually impossible to be both religious and spiritual. When you begin to develop spiritual growth, you soon realize that no one stands between you and God. No deacon, priest, pastor, bishop or pope is closer to God than you. Jesus said he was a teacher, not a ‘leader’. Likewise, church leaders should be teachers, not ‘leaders’. Jesus did not create or teach a system of hierarchy. Jesus called us his brothers and sisters and tells us that his father is also our father – Jesus says we are his equals! Once you begin to remember who you really are, it is very difficult to continue practicing a religion that insists that the church leaders are more worthy or more righteous or closer to God than you. It is also difficult to practice a religion that ignores the single most important fact of this existence – that we are spiritual beings! God loves you! You are very worthy! It is time to be responsible for your own growth and have a personal relationship with God.
It is time to remember who you are!