Are spirituality and faith the same thing? I don’t think they are, and here’s why:
Because some of us trivialize the heart adjustments that the Holy Spirit works in us, we might develop a sense of spirituality within ourselves. We may perceive that spirituality is the same as true faith or listen to celebrities, new-age church pastors, and well-known authors who expound on how we should be searching for the sacred—in ourselves. We supposedly encounter our own “inner self” or “inner dimension” through achieving personal growth and enjoying euphoric significance in our lives. But isn’t euphoria simply an emotion or feeling that departs from us?
We can’t realistically live in a state of euphoria all the time. Or can we?
Spirituality is an ambiguous word, and difficult to define. We can feel spiritual, but try to explain what it feels like? Well… I don’t know about that. However, its (spirituality) synonyms, “immateriality”, “otherworldliness”, and “unearthliness” point to God—not people.
Faith that points to God isn’t spirituality. And spirituality that points to people isn’t faith in God. Believers have hopes for the future that never fail, because we are confident, unafraid, and believe in God’s promises. True faith is an eternal love relationship with God that makes us whole in mind, body, and spirit. And because we love God above all others, our life is full of him. Our response to this mystical, life-altering adventure occurs naturally, like breathing.
Still, many of us who attend church regularly are still searching for answers, because God may not be our primary focus. On the other hand, when we’re involved in Bible study we see the ways in which God has revealed himself. It’s like a courtship. As we get to know the Lover of our souls, we love him back. And the more time spent on our relationship with God, the more committed we are to loving him above all others.
When we engage in a love relationship with God, we turn from spirituality and self-love to reverence and reality. We observe the world and ourselves as God does—corrupt, evil, and sinful—yet loving it. We focus on relating to the world as it is. We choose not to ignore the possibilities that come from a smile, handshake, hug, or kind word. We admit that to change ourselves may help to transform the world, but recognize it is worrisome. For example, how often do we want to change something about ourselves, but not too soon? A life lived through authentic faith is not easy, because there is a constant, raging battle in our soul.
Still, God accepts us as we are, and waits patiently for us to surrender to him. He gives us the benefit of doubt, by acknowledging we don’t always know better. Peter writes, “As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance” (1 Peter 1:-14 emphasis mine). God dwells in us on both sides of our struggle. He is with us always.
Is your spirituality getting in the way of true faith?