“I’m not religious but I am spiritual” we might hear people say, or we might even say of ourselves. What might this mean? Perhaps it means that ‘religion’ represents the formal institutional life and structure of the Christian Church, or of one of the other Living Faiths like Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, while to be ‘spiritual’ means to have some deep personal sense of connection with a divine power which seems important or even life-giving. The suggestion is that such a sense of ‘divine power’ does not come through ‘organised religion’. In fact, people may well consider that ‘religion’ and ‘spiritual’ are opposites of each other. Perhaps, today more than previously, people do not want to connect with institutional faiths, and especially with the Church which has
been shamed publicly by the abuses of its powerful leaders against powerless children.
For the apostle Paul, the word ‘religion’ does not exist, but the word ‘spiritual’ does. By this word, Paul means a way of life, empowered by the Spirit of God to be lived in response to God’s love. For Paul, the opposite of ‘spiritual’ is ‘flesh’, where the word ‘flesh’ is used, not as we commonly use it, but to mean ‘a life lived without any thought for God’. In this sense, the whole of one’s life and not just a segment of it, and the whole of one’s time and not just occasional moments, are intended to be ‘spiritual’ – shaped by the Spirit in response to the love of God.
How might you give expression to a ‘spiritual life’ in the context where you live?
Empower our lives, O God, by your Holy Spirit, that in all we do, we might display our love for you.