I received this the other morning, and thought I would share it will all of you. This is something I would like to be able to write, but I am not gifted enough to say it like Pastor John Glenn. What he wrote is as follows:

One of the most serious obstacles we face in American Christianity is the confusion between true spirituality and religiosity. Many people get the two confused because of the natural, human tendency to equate being spiritual with being religious. To them, spirituality is simply a new lifestyle of religious activities such as church attendance, or membership and faithful involvement in a religious organization. Those who regularly engage in such religious activities or rituals are thought to be “spiritual” as opposed to those who do not.

Because of this confusion it is best to operationally define our terms. Religion may be defined as a system of rules and customs based on orthodoxy that is generally imposed on individuals who are born into the system and raised to obey its practices without question. It has a tendency to formalize, ritualize, and legalize individual experience and expression of spirituality; and is generally concerned with understanding and applying some form of spirituality to improve the human experience while also reinforcing the religious rules and customs.

Spirituality, on the other hand, is more fundamental than the various religions that may grow out of it. It is highly personal, unique to the individual, experienced from within, and cannot be explained or contained in a system of rules and customs. It is rooted in the spiritual nature of the individual, not in the collective experience of the culture. At its core, spirituality is the recognition of a spiritual reality, the personal realization of that spiritual reality, and the expression of reverence for that which is spiritual.

Because true spirituality is so vital to functional living and healthy relationships, it should come as no surprise that the enemy would seek to undermine it with a counterfeit. In an effort to maintain our false identify in the flesh, the carnal mind immediately seeks to feign acceptability and, therefore, worth by turning all of its attention to becoming religious. It is all too happy to “dress itself up and take itself to church”. There it can engage in its own plan of self improvement for its own glory. Remember, false assumptions of personal worth don’t always look false! The evil thoughts of “I will be worthy if… can be completed with good looking religious activities such as church attendance, worship activities, and outward compliance with a moral set of standards. The end result of such infantile thinking in the baby Christian is what Paul warned as “falling from grace”. Such was the case for the Pharisees of Jesus day.

In this sense religion has always been the enemy of the cross of Christ. Biblical history records many examples of the terrible consequences of religiosity beginning with Cain murdering his brother, Abel. The fleshly attempt of Sarah and Abraham to fulfill the promise of God through their own natural means; the repeated failure of Israel as a nation to keep the law of Moses; the rejection and persecution of the prophets; and the continual opposition of the Pharisees to the grace and truth of Christ all illustrate the historical tendency toward and dangers of religiosity.

Satan being able to transform himself into an “angel of light” and his servants into “ministers of the gospel” demonstrates the deception of religiosity. His most subtle lies are based on “half-truths” that often sound religious and on the surface appear to be good. The “seducing spirits” Paul warns of in 2 Timothy are religious in nature suggesting that we may guarantee our worth as persons by a flurry of religious activities, emotional experiences, and intellectual insights. The blinding power of Satan always involves turning our attention away from the good news of all that God has done for us to focus on what we need to do, feel, or think to make ourselves worthy. This is the core of religiosity that literally denies the gospel and blasphemes the work of Christ on our behalf. As a result, most of the historical crimes against humanity were committed in the name of religion (witness the period of crusades as well as the modern day jihads).

True spirituality, however, is based on an authentic faith in what God has, is, and will do for us to make us worthy as persons. Such faith produces a genuine hope (confident expectation of our future) that allows us to care about someone besides ourselves. True spirituality is simply trusting God to meet our own needs so that we can be used of him to meet the needs of others. Those who are “spiritual” are those who are indwelled by the Spirit God and experience his personal comfort and direction in their lives. Ironically enough, true spirituality doesn’t look very religious at all. That’s why it was the religious people who cried “crucify him!”

Johnj

If you would like to hear more of what Pastor Glenn says, go to www.alphaministries.org

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