Spiritual, but not religious – comments on a BBC article

spiritualityThe BBC posted an article on it’s website that I found most intruiging ;  it talks about the wave of people who call themselves spiritual, but have no religious affiliation, a wave that seems to be getting bigger.

I can totally understand the appeal, and would probably be part of it myself if I weren’t a Christian.

I guess some causes of the rise would be that:

  • The world sees the corruption and absolute authority of the church and says “no thanks”
  • There is a huge miss-communication of what it actually means to be a Christian and part of a church
  • Most of the good done by churches throughout the world is largely ignored because a) nobody is interested in good news, and b) it’s just stuff done by those ‘do-gooders’ [with the exception of Foodbanks which are gaining widespread coverage, but even then the focus is on the recipients and why they are in need rather than the story of Foodbanks and why people volunteer there]

In short, the world (the heavily secular media in particular) is doing a good job of discrediting organised religion, and I suppose that corrupted authority within faith organisations isn’t doing much to help. If only the world could see what the church should be like (another time, I think)

Upon reading the article, 2 lines in particular caught my attention (in bold):

The search for meaning can be exhausting. Philosopher Julian Baggini writes in The Shrink & the Sage that there is a yearning for something more. “My short reply is that you can yearn for higher as much as you like, but what you’re yearning for ain’t there. But the desire won’t go away.”

“You’re going on an interior mental journey. It’s risky to go and try and see things from a bigger perspective. The promise is tremendous but the journey can be very painful.”

Isn’t that the baseline of faith?  A deep-seated longing that there is more than we can see and more than science, logic and reason can explain, a desire to see that longing fulfilled and an amazing promise that doesn’t come easy?

In the Gospels you get this sense that Jesus is bursting at the seams to try to explain just how little of life we have grasped and how much more there is to be grasped, if only we would be bold and take that step toward him. In Matthew he says “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:25)

And there it is ; there are those who are content with ‘feeling the energy of nature’, the beauty of a sunrise or worshipping trees, but these are nothing, not even a crumb, compared to the life that can be experienced and is freely available. These are feeble attempts at saving life.

Among other things, Jesus came so that we, you, may have abundant, overflowing, rich, joyous life (“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” – John 10:10) and magic crystals, sunrises, mystical stones and energy flows won’t do that.

You can have that life, and all it will cost is your independence. Your rule over yourself. Your freedom.

And anyway, are you really free? We are all slave to some god or other, be it work, beauty, money, science, fitness, spirituality or family. The difference is, none of those things fulfill the deep longing, ‘the desire that won’t go away’.

Only Jesus can do that.



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