There is a growing trend of people who describe themselves as “spiritual, but not religious.” One study showed that 1 in 5 Americans would describe themselves that way. While each person has their own reasons for arriving at those convictions, there tend to be a few reasons. First, there is an acknowledgment that we are spiritual beings and long for a transcendent experience. As a Christ-follower, I’d simply say that every human being has “eternity placed in their heart.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)  A second reason is that people have seen abuses take place in some hierarchical religious environments, and they don’t want to subject themselves to what they consider to be vicious power structures. Finally, people want to decide what they believe in themselves rather than placing themselves under the guidance of others or the doctrine of the church. Whatever the specific reason, people are moving away from organized religion while maintaining a hold on spirituality.

While this trend feels new for us, it’s an ancient inclination. In fact, Paull addressed this when he wrote to the Corinthian church. He said, “But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” (1 Corinthians 2:7-8) People in ancient Corinth wanted spirituality, but true spiritual knowledge was hidden from them; they wanted spiritual wisdom, but they didn’t want to embrace the cross. We might say that they wanted spirituality, but they didn’t want Christ. We see the same thing taking place in the U.S. today. People want spirituality and they find it through mindfulness, Yoga, self-help literature, and the power of positive thinking. However, what was true in Paul’s day is also true today: “So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:11b) The only way to be truly spiritual is through faith in Jesus.

While the trend of “spiritual but not religious” is popular outside of the church, there seems to be another temptation within the church; religious, but not spiritual. Some want to live in their head while resisting any spiritual experiences or acknowledging our transcendent longing. As Jesus followers, we want to avoid both of those erroneous traps. We want to remember that we are spiritual beings designed to live spiritual lives where we have a real and vital relationship with Jesus, but we want our spirituality to be grounded in the person and work of Jesus. As you go about your day, take some time to prayerfully ask Jesus to teach you what it looks like to be spiritual and Christ-centered. That was Paul’s call for the Corinthian church, and it’s Jesus’ invitation to us today.

Pastor Ryan Paulson
Lead Pastor

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