Spirituality and religion | Dorian Cole

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Don’t you like those religious organizations that demand allegiance, suggesting that if you don’t belong, you’ll go to hell. Scary isn’t it? And there are so many, so which one do you join.

Fear is about control and it is bigoted behavior. This series deals with false religion and true religion. Fear is a characteristic of false religion.

Image by Ron Mader on Flickr

Although there are many definitions of religion and spirituality, the following are relevant to this discussion:

  • Spirituality is about shaping the type of person we become and the practices we maintain.
  • Religion is about ways of learning, beliefs, a supportive community of believers, and organized collective action.
  • Judgment is not for the forgiven. The forgiven are not judged. For those who are unforgiven, it is the state of our soul created by our actions.

The soul that is continually purified by forgiveness is able to go on and do good, but the soul embarrassed by actions that hurt others remains mired in hatred and regret.

He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but that you practice justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God? – Micah 6:8

Kindness is a renewable resource
Image by Ron Mader on Flickr

Without fear

If religion is valuable to people, it needs no fear. People flock to good things like the smell of hot cookies and popcorn. The religion that directs people to good works and improves their lives is a certain attraction. Religion that causes fear and hatred drives people away.

“do justice, love kindness” said the prophet

Love kindness. Smiles are free and you will never run out of them. Smiles reveal what kind of person you are. Kind words are free and generally much appreciated – distribute them with passion. Kind actions like helping out are gratuitous and a demonstration of what kind of person you are. Show people eagerly. These are things that show a good spiritual soul, and they draw others to you, either as an individual or as a religion. Lack of kindness is a red flag that says, “Stay away.”

Make justice. The word “justice” (mishpat) is a reflection of divine justice – following divine law of how to live, which is essentially how to treat others. Don’t just memorize beliefs and rules, “do justice.” Make the world fair. It means that if you see that people are not being treated well, then you work to change it.

Kindness and justice are the essence of religion. They are also the essence of your spiritual condition.

Faith is secondary to love

The apostle Paul said, “And now these three things remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of them is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV)

Acts of love or kindness mean that our behavior towards others is the result of our spiritual condition. It’s our intention – it’s who we are. The word “mind” can often be easily replaced by the words “mental disposition” or “intention”. We are a reflection of divine love, which is God’s mental disposition towards us, or God’s intention. God is spirit.

James the Apostle, son of Zebedee

Don’t be misleading. “You see a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.” James 2:24 (NASB)

As James clarified, “What good is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but has no works [toil or deeds]? Can this faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothes and needs daily food, and one of you says to him: “Go in peace, be warm and satisfied”, and you do not give him what is necessary for his body, is that the use? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being of itself. – James 2:14 (NASB)

Sitters versus talkers

We can attend church services and talk about them all day, but that’s not what it’s about. This is not the intention. The intention is to become people who benefit the world around them. Not because we have to (law), but because we want to. We are compelled to act because it is our spiritual condition – we are that kind of person at heart. This is our intention.

“But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. – Galatians 5:18 (NIV)

Galatians 5:13-15 (NIV) “You, my brothers and sisters, have been called to be free. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy the flesh [opposition to the spirit]; instead, serve one another humbly in love. For the whole law is fulfilled by observing this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Spiritual or Religious?

It’s really not a question. Religion should help people to become better people – to reach a better spiritual condition. If not, it’s useless. It’s dead. Spiritual growth is experiential. As people experience it, they reinforce or eliminate religious beliefs and grow whether religion is present or not. It’s better to have a good religious teaching behind people but many will become better without it.

“But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. – Galatians 5:18 (NIV)

What is the spiritual?

God is love, God is Spirit, God is the wisdom presented by the Word. The mind is like the wind, invisible. Sometimes bad ideas look like good ideas, but through experience and discernment, we reject them. We embody ideas in our soul as we live, experience and learn.

The mind is experiential and intentional. We do not become spiritual by studying, but by proving ideas through experience. It is a process of proving or disproving, and becoming. It’s convincing.

I explain the spiritual much more deeply in my book, New generations walk with Jesus: It is the inner life of all of us, filled with love, faith, hope and convincing ideas. It is our human passion and our wisdom that influence us and put us into action. It is an expression of our intention, and includes a deeper communion with others. It involves the testing and product of experiences related to ideas, an instrument of spiritual growth and a way of relating or resonating with ideas.

I know, that description probably sounds like the elitist repartee of decadent theological snobs. My wife vomited. I get it, but there’s a lot in this description to unpack and think about seriously.

Take home points

1 John 4:16 “And so we know and rely on the love that God has for us. God is love. Anyone who lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

Christians often act out of their belief in Jesus. “I know the secret. Me good, you bad. I’m allowed. But the love that shows who we are is not about secrets, right words or rights. It’s about how we treat others. God loves us all the same and treats us all the same.

Love is at the top of importance. We are to love kindness and do justice, and we do this as a reflection of who we are.

Continued: What is spirituality versus religion?

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Our answer is God. God’s answer is us. Together we make the world a better place.

I will be using some book references for this series, which I have recommended reading:

  • tabernacle of hate by Kerry Nobles – true story of a group that isolated themselves to live peacefully but found themselves in cults that advocated violence.
  • C Streett by Jeff Sharlet – a cult that thought Jesus was wrong and is influencing politicians around the world
  • When Religion Becomes Bad by Charles Kimball (5 warning signs)

Other articles in this series will include:

  • spiritual abuse
  • Cults
  • spiritual and religious
  • chasing money
  • Examples of Sadducees and Pharisees, and today tradition above all
  • The Two Churches in Revelation
  • Example of C Street and Tabernacle of Hatred
  • Example of an end times prophecy
  • Evil done in the name of religion
  • True religion part 1 – what is meant by truth?
  • True Religion Part 2 – In Spirit
  • True Religion Part 3 – In Truth
  • True Religion Part 4 – The Wrath of Isaiah
  • True Religion Part 5 – True vs. False
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