But I also see the world of religion. I see some of my brothers and sisters trying to be religious without being fully human. They seem a little rigid and narrow at times, wanting to be holy, but not human. They seem to be winning a place in heaven, without realizing or enjoying the beauty of earth. They keep the ten commandments, but their observance looks so joyless. Such a world seems small and the air in that world is small.John Powell (a Jesuit monk)
There is a huge difference between religion and spirituality. Religions tend to want to categorize life, to make up rules that will keep people all doing the same things, believing the same things. Religions rely on ceremonies and traditions–as well as the comfort levels that these things bring people–to keep people “in line.” Religions somehow tend to be seen as “what God wants,” and people get so caught up in the trappings of religion that they often completely lose sight of God, the original purpose of the religion.
We are human beings, and we are living here on an absolutely beautiful planet for a very short period of time. We must take full advantage of both our humanity and our spirituality and our setting if life is to mean anything to us. If we get too caught up in ceremonies and rituals created by people, we can easily lose sight of all of the wonderful things that are around us all the time.
Our spirits are unique, individual, and very much alive. Our relationship with God is just that–our unique relationship. If we allow others to tell us what that relationship should be like, how we should act in it, how we should act towards God, then our relationship loses all of its spontaneity, all of its vitality, and we begin to live what turns out to be a shallow substitute for a healthy relationship.
Religions should be about strengthening our personal relationships with God. If they aren’t doing that, or if even worse they’re dampening that relationship, then it’s time to re-evaluate our relationship with our religion.
Questions to ponder:
1. Why might religions tend to take some of the joy out of our personal relationships with God?
2. Why do religions focus so strongly on ceremonies and rituals?
3. Is it possible to “win” a place in heaven?
For further thought:
Religion is to be used as a stepping stone to God but it must never be used as a tower to hold one aloft from others. We are all cells
in the body of humanity. When anyone attempts to isolate another, they only isolate themselves more.
Credit: Living Life Fully