Yesterday, a buddy of mine over at Cowboy Ministires made a comment on my blog which led to a brief discussion of Spirituality vs Religion that I’ll try and elaborate on here. He made a great point saying that the two are very closely linked together. Most Chrsitians, I would venture, would say the same thing and for most Christians this would be an accurate sentiment. The institution of faith built up around Christianity has, for the most part, done an excellent job in building the spiritual character of Christians. Mad props to the Vatican for getting the ball rolling on that one 2,000 odd years ago.
However, as someone who grew up outside the church and who tries to keep an ear to the ground on the topic, let me tell you that non-Christians tend to have a negative view of our institution. They may like individual Christians, they might like the idea of Christianity, and they can even accept that Jesus was a pretty good guy, but they won’t deal with the institution.
This is the difference between Religion and Spirituality. Outside of Christianity, Religion is the institution of faith, the ceremony, the Ecclesiastical hierarchy, and liturgics that have, out of the best intentions, sometimes led to conflict. Spirituality, however, is about that odd, metaphysical, supernatural, and extremely personal relationship an individual has with the Divine.
The two are designed to live in a symbiotic relationship in which they equally grow and balance one another. Without the Spirit, religion becomes an empty and hollow expression of conformity and can be easily abused by someone with less than Godly intentions. Without religion, spirituality doesn’t grow or if it does it is a slow and undirected process. There are no guidelines or roadmaps to help with spiritual health, you’re stuck guessing about the next step to take assuming you even realize that there is room or a need for growth.