I once listened to an interview Dan Rather had with Willie Nelson. Dan asked Willie if he was religious. Willie replied he was not, but he was spiritual. This was an interesting answer, but not sure what that means. What does spiritual mean? In Willie’s case, it does not mean religious, though he might have some religious inclinations in him. Google defines it as relating to or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things. To me, this definition is not helpful. Relation to or affecting the human spirit? This is another way of saying something like, “There are those who are clean in their own eyes but are not washed of their filth” (Prov. 30:12, ESV).
This boils down to: “I don’t want to commit myself to the Lord and His way of thinking and doing. It demands too much of me, so much that I simply don’t have time, neither do I want to take the time to adjust my life to comport with His.” Do you know of many people like this? I do.
People who think and operate this way will be the first to tell you they love the Lord. Yet, in spite of the words they use, their “I love the Lord” life does not correspond to the teachings of the Lord they declare they love; thus, they give the Lord a partial commitment. The Lord demands total commitment, not partial (there is no such thing as partial commitment). Those who love the Lord, on purpose, separate themselves from the ways of this world.
Those who are “partially” committed know the Lord desires more from them. In order to bridge the gap between where one is at and what the Lord desires, they apply an ointment of their own making. This ointment allows them to think they are spiritual, though not religious (as the word is commonly understood). Though one may not be as “bad” as Willie Nelson’s spiritual outlook, they still choose a different approach than the Lord’s. “I love the Lord, but I love Him as best I can given the circumstances I am in, even if that means I can only obey Him some of the time” is adopted. The “I am spiritual” outlook says things like, 1) My husband is not supportive of me attending church. 2) My children have so many activities, activities that I want them to have a part in. 3) I don’t want my kids to stand out from the crowd, because they made fun of, and I know how I felt when that occurred to me so many years ago. 4) Work takes me away, and I must make a living. 5) I am tired!
On and on it goes.
On the other hand, the Scripture teaches, “As they were going along the road, someone said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’ To another he said, ‘Follow me.’ But he said, ‘Lord, let me first go and bury my father.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’ Yet another said, ‘I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.’ Jesus said to him, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God’” (Luke 9:57-62, ESV).
None of this applies to me! Perhaps it does much more than you think. How many, on judgment day, will say to the Lord, “But, Lord, though I was not religious (i.e., committed), I was certainly spiritual and did love you. Won’t you let me in?”
Perhaps one will hear on that day, “Why should I commit to you when you never did to Me? You committed to your work, your family, your charitable service, but never to Me. I did not fail to see what good you did, but I never saw what good you did in My name with My life controlling yours” (John 14:6). RT