"The natural person does not
accept the things of the Spirit of
God...(I Corinthians 2:14 ESV)
It will usually come up during intergenerational conversations around the topic of religion or morality. Apparently, the term is a suitable answer to explain whether someone has a personal relationship with God or not.
In today's culture people who have seriously adopted this mindset have gone beyond being trendy to getting more organized. They have acquired popular and recognizable acronyms to identify themselves (SBNR- spiritual but not religious; SBNA-spiritual but not affiliated or simply NONES) and the masses are growing every day!
So dear readers tell me: What does being spiritual mean to you?
I'm curious because the responses Ive gotten so far have not been very clear. I do know that spirituality to a SBNR is different than what is taught in Traditional Christianity. There is no meeting in a corporate worship setting on a given day or time with consistency. Prayer is often involved. At least the practice of it in some form or another. Charity and the furtherance of good will is similar to what one might call Christian service. That is if a SBNR is really a Christian!
Although no free will offering or tithing is emphasized, monetary giving to noble causes is quite common. Live streaming a church service via internet is acceptable and viewing a preacher on YouTube or attending a gospel concert are all equal forms of worship! So what, a SBNA might say to you, are we missing?
This post will not clarify the myriad of explanations given if you challenge a person who identifies as spiritual regarding their faith. But it might help you understand their perspective and keep you from accepting as merely spiritual immaturity, the greater issue--their salvation. At the end of life, where will their soul reside... heaven or hell!
It is so important when engaging in conversations with a SBNR that you discern what spirit is embodying and shaping their lives: the fleshly human spirit, satanic, or Holy spirit. Pray first, then listen carefully to where they place honor and their allegiance. Is it in a specific person, deity, concept, or philosophy? Remember spiritual people have no particular standard of truth that they adhere to and may formulate a worldview that has fragments of many beliefs.
>>Become familiar with how they defend their form of spirituality, i.e., organized religion is not necessary to practice their faith. Denominations are nothing more than labeling, and puts practitioners in a box.
>>Do not become combative on points of disagreement but stand boldly on the Word of God.
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone (Colossians 4:6). Respectful listening should be practiced at all times. By the way this is what our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ did and He held His own among the most skillful of gospel dissenters.
>>If they insist that they are Christian be sure that the words they use match the bible's meaning and context: Here are two examples: Sin and Truth. What we recognize as sin according to God's word may be interpreted by a spiritual person as an individual's choice according to their personal beliefs, values, or life style.
In other words, what's sin to you may not be a sin for them! They will say that we have no right to judge another's behavior and should tolerate or accept what does not coincide with our own beliefs. We believe God's word is the absolute standard for right and wrong. This is not so for every spiritual person. Their concept is that Truth is relative--whatever is right for you personally!
You may never fully persuade a SBNR, SBNA, or NONE to adhere to the faith practices that you have grown to love, respect, and endorse. That's not your job any way! But you might sway them with a bit of patience and knowledge based on your Christian experience. One way is to show them where their brand of spirituality will disappoint them:
- The lack of a community of faithful believers to share good and hard times of life. Strong relational bonds and loyal friendships are rare. Integrity, accountability, and unconditional love is formulated within the confines of a community of faith and is always dependable because we have the Perfect Example, Jesus Christ. This friendship is without compare! (Prov. 18:24)
- Having no trusted standard for right and wrong behavior is dangerous. What is called truth has been grossly distorted in our world. One can hardly believe from one day to another if what we hear and even see is genuine, or even if it comes from a reputable source. A spiritual person's search for wisdom among various teachings or philosophies may result in temporary inspiration or encouragement but is no substitute for God's Word. The bible is inerrant, fail safe, and has been thoroughly tested to be dependable.
- Practicing spirituality without the Holy Spirit is nothing more than self-absorption. It is as the book of Judges illustrates, doing what is right in your own eyes! (Judges 17:6) The practitioner has placed themselves on the throne of their own heart and is now worshiping the trinity of: Me, Myself, and I!
Yes, they may be able to dialogue with you using scriptures learned years ago, even diminish your concerns by telling you they believe in God, pray, and read the bible. But do they have a genuine faith in God? This might be a good time to find out!
UNTIL NEXT TIME...
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