Spirituality or Religion? Which is to be? Convention (modern) would indicate people are opting for spirituality – a private practise of personal preference not linked to, bound, nor hindered by institutional religion/s. But the opposite may be the new preference. Why? Because religion offers community and connection – a sense of belonging that individual participation in an ‘eclectic of individually sourced spirituality’ is incapable and unwilling to provide. People want to go back to something of substance that has authority, authenticity and shared value, and religion can provide it.
The church does – it is the function and reason of its ‘sociological self.’ Of course it is much more than this – but it is at least and all of this. Which makes it all the more troubling when Christians stop attending church and opt for their own private faith walk, which, in fact, is no such thing. They are doing something people with no affinity for Christ and his word have been attempting for ages, and it appears, increasingly, unsuccessfully.
People who stop going to church will often tell you how their spiritual life has blossomed, which in most cases is short hand for – not tithing, no accountability, private moral choices, and a cover for the inability to do one of the fundamentals of the faith – forgive. You need to be a Christian to survive church life which is exactly the point.
It isn’t possible to sustain a vital faith by yourself, in spite of the protests to the contrary. Scripture, theology, tradition and experience all militate against the ‘me and Jesus’ nonsense propagated by these people who have left the Body of Christ. John the apostle is quite clear when writing in 1 John that walking from fellowship has disastrous consequences.
God is in his church. His church is beautiful. Beautify the House of the Lord with your faithful presence.