The Dilemma Of Increasing Religiosity And Decreasing Spirituality In Today’s Christianity
Psalm 74:9 : We see not our signs: there is no more any prophet: neither is there among us any that knoweth how long.
There is a saying which may be or may not be correct that “the church is becoming worldly and the world is becoming churchy”.
I believe this to a large extent has become the chronic disease plaguing the people of God. Everyone is a Christian today, but in the true sense of the word, is this so?
i. What is religiosity and spirituality?
ii. How can we move from being just religious to being spiritual?
iii. Are there antidotes for the widespread religious decadence of the 21st century Christianity?
iv Or are we the ones raising the standard too high, or maybe we succumb to mass Christianity and lower the standard?
In my definition: Religion is about you while Spirituality is about God. In religion you do things based on what has been handed over to you so as to get more money, long life, more acceptability by people etc. But spirituality is about fellowship and devotion to God and He is the center and the reasons why you do it, not yourself.
The first challenge that made the whole thing like this is what we set before the people. We failed to set Christ before the people and what we set before the people is what they focus on and those are: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the pride of life. Any man who pursues these is out of Spirituality.
I have a book written by A. W. Tozer titled The dangers of a shallow faith; though an old classic, it is still relevant to today’s Christianity. He highlighted some problems of today’s church and Christians as:
§ The curse of worldliness
§ The curse of imitation
§ The curse of entertainment and celebrity
Believe me, most of what he highlighted are the challenges of today. Men are highly religious yet not spiritual. There is a form today and it is not the real thing. This makes Christians look like clowns among the unsaved because there is no clear distinction.
2 Timothy 3:5 having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
The standard of God has never changed, from time immemorial, our challenge is that, when we make consecration about man rather than God, we fall into this trap of religiosity without spirituality.
In our days, what makes people fall into the deception of religiosity instead of true Christianity?
Let’s really understand religion:
Ø This is anything you do in the name of God that never moves you closer to God
Ø This is anything you do to glory self like the Pharisees in the temple; they worship and obey traditions, but never had God at the Centre of their service.
Ø This is anything you do because you are afraid of what men will say than what God will say.
Ø This is anything you do to sustain the flesh even though it looks outwardly as though it is for God.
Spirituality should take you away from religiosity. Religiosity has rules and regulations made by man but Spirituality is guided by the Scripture and the Holy Ghost.
In one of the teachings we had, I think the word ‘Christian’ was given to the church by the world. They saw the life of Christ in the early believers, therefore religion is following human approach of reaching out to God. This can make one go deep into traditional rules and dead religion without the spirit of life.
Men carried the teachings of man more than the spirit behind the teaching.
Another point to note is that “Spirituality is life in the spirit”. Spirituality to me is complex. We have monks that go spiritual. The question is now which spirit?
The heart of Spirituality is the Spirit, once we no longer feel the heartbeat of God in our daily fellowship with him though we still continue to get involved in all church activities, we may have been entrapped by religion.
The true church movement has always been powered by the Spirit of God. It’s time we put aside our human sense and knowledge and start working and walking in the leading and prompting of the Spirit.
For contextual emphasis, Spirituality is about a life of fellowship with Christ as the basis of our outward Christian activities; while religion is performing mere Christian activities without the spirit of God and a profound fellowship with God. Mark 3:14 and he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach.
Let me give some posers here for the sake of clarity. These questions might lead to us being castigated, rejected, and even throw out of church ministration and service. But we must return to the Spirit leading at all cost.
* How many of us spend more time in Church work than fellowship with God? What is that?
** How many of us to workers meeting to avoid lateness but we never had 30mins prayer during the week. What is that?
*** How many of us pose every Sunday on camera with tags such as *Sunday things* but never pose before God for fellowship. What is that?
**** How many of us borrow money to pay things in Church just to look good? What is that ?
**** How many of us work very diligently not really because we want to work but because we want commendations from the Pastor. What is that?
There are some issues that has been bothering my heart lately among the youths. Immorality is so high, Masturbation and porn is the order of the day. The most fearful thing is that many of them are church goers. They are even involved with many things in the church settings. These are just few samples of the forms of religion with denial of the true power behind it, and many of us are trapped in it. I was surprised last week to hear from a brother that their pastor knows about these things and has probably done nothing about this information. This is becoming a new normal. But one thing I know is that a man cannot give what he does not have. That was my conclusion. May God help our present generation. Amen.
What you don’t speak about, your people will not pray about and it will not reflect in people’s life. When people only see that success and money is what matters, that is what they set their focus upon.
Holiness is not preached, how will the people know? That is what is causing what you are seeing. Many programs, little impact. There must be a return to genuine Christianity of searching the word and sincere prayers for total transformation in our generation.
Someone once said “there is a paradigm shift of ministration to Administration”. Unfortunately, he described the letters “A-D” added to ministration as “After Death”.
That’s what we have today. A planned and structured program for a whole year that cannot be altered. Today’s church messages are predictable. The Holy Spirit is no longer allowed to operate in His fullness. So how can we be spiritual? Our own revival is praying to fight and kill our enemies. No holiness is being preached and practiced. We all need a personal search of our life to see where anything has taken the place of God. We need to check if we have not held onto some views rather than the revealed truth of the Bible. Then, there must be a return to what is right not from man’s perspective but God’s. 2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?
We are to examine ourselves; Am I still in the faith? Is the Bible still my guide? Is the spirit of God still my helper and leader?
* We need to check if we are been controlled by men rather than God.
** We need to check if we can stand on what the Bible says irrespective of who is involved.
*** We need to check if we have not turned men to idols?
**** We need to check if service of God is a fellowship and not just a routine.
Service routine without the Spirit is one of the early signs of knowing if a life has been taken over by religion.
So what is the conclusion?
As we serve God, we must be intentional in making our service a Spiritual one than just religion. We must be ready to stand against anything that will turn us into ‘Pharisees’. We must let others see this context of spirituality even though today, most believes that things are wrong but they are not ready to stand out and be different.
Personal soul-searching is first, then we should also do all in our power to make people see the light. We must turn men to Jesus through genuine repentance and believing in the true God.
The church is now looking at the world, this must change. It is the world that should be looking up to the church especially at this critical time. May God help us. Amen.