June 28, 2021
Spiritual vs. Religious
Throughout history, kings and queens, pastors and leaders, family members, and next-door neighbors have given Christianity a bad reputation. Whether they used their religious authority as an abuse of power or we just met a good person on their worst day, bad examples often take the spotlight in people’s minds.
Many people who claim to be Christian have given Christians a bad reputation. Sometimes, people are considered Christian because of familial tradition instead of relationship with God, faith in Jesus, and/or the seal of the Holy Spirit. These people may have been brought up religiously Christian, but they never personally embraced the spiritual lifestyle of Christianity. This spiritual lifestyle is not Americanized cultural Christianity with its bookmarks and Sunday services and t-shirts and lingo. It is not who you voted for or didn’t vote for. You can have all those trendy things and not live by or be led by the Spirit.1 Christianity has become a cultural word, rather than one used to define someone’s spiritual life. Claiming to be Christian doesn’t mean much these days.2
Actions speak louder than words.
The word Christian must be redeemed.
It needs to be restored to its true meaning.
Jesus said the world would know we are his disciples because of our actions: our love for one another. The only way the world will see true Christianity is through living, breathing examples out in the world. If we call ourselves Christian, it should mean more than just our belief. (The demons know and shudder!) It should mean we follow him.
There are wholehearted, intentional, and deeply sincere Christians who are committed to loving the Lord with their whole heart, mind, soul, and strength and loving others just as wholeheartedly. These Christians are not just religious people who go through the motions. No, they are true believers and friends of Jesus, who intentionally pursue a Spirit-led life. These Christians, who have embraced a spiritual lifestyle, who walk the walk, who have submitted their lives to Jesus, recognize everything affects their ability to follow him.
God said to love him first.
Common sense should tell us then,
that everything in life will fight for that #1 Spot.
Therefore, what you do, say, and believe matters. Everything you touch, see, experience, absorb, hear, eat… Everything affects your relationship with the Lord. This is what I mean when I say “everything is spiritual.” It is both a proclamation and a warning. Your relationships are spiritual. Your thoughts are spiritual. Your physical actions have spiritual meanings and spiritual consequences (good or bad). Your life choices affect your soul.
Miniphanies is about asking you what kind of Christian you really want to be.
Do you want to be the religious kind, who Jesus called a white-washed tomb? Dead on the inside but looking pretty on the outside?
Or do you want to be the wholehearted, spiritual kind? Alive through and through, made beautiful from the inside-out, transformed into Christ-likeness: loving not your life, even unto the cross.
Let us be spiritual Christians
not just religious ones.
Those who go all-in with Jesus, are not alone. There is a large cloud of witnesses who have gone before us. Not just those in the Bible, of which are too many to name, but countless more throughout history who stood out for their dedication to Jesus. Many saints, martyrs, and mystics were very misunderstood and often ahead of their time, which cost them their lives. Some were hated for speaking the truth, some for preaching Jesus. Many for standing against the church. Some lost their lives for justice, like the modern Dr. Martin Luther King (assassinated in 1968.) Others were divinely led and saved by the Lord, such as Corrie ten Boom (released from a concentration camp in 1944.) Check out my Miniphanies® podcast about her….
I want us to stand alongside this great cloud of witnesses. Like them, I want to be an intimate friend of God who seeks him in his Word, through prayer, through contemplation, through self-surrender… I want to be all-in, wholehearted, overflowing with living water, and enjoying abundant life… I want to love him with all I have and love his people just as much. I want him to be #1. I want to take part in birthing God’s plans and purposes on the earth.
I hope you’ll join me.
ps. I had written (and then deleted) that bad Christians give God a bad reputation as well. I just want to make a note that unfaithful Israel gave God a good name. He was faithful even when they were not. He loved them, even when his love was not returned. The Bible is beautiful and powerful because it is honest about man’s failure and how God rescues, pursues, saves, and loves them anyway. God doesn’t change. Today, in the 21st century, God is still faithful and true, even when we are not.
1“Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.” Gal 5:25 NLT
2Which, by the way, C. S. Lewis basically warned us would happen in his book Mere Christianity.