Mike Novotny - Is It Okay to Be Spiritual but Not Religious?
What does Jesus think about people who are spiritual but not religious? People who pray but they don't have a personal pastor. They have like a personal relationship with God but they don't have an official membership with a church. I bet you know a lot of people like that. Maybe your son or your daughter was raised in the church but now they are off at college and they don't really have a connection. Maybe someone in your family or your best friend, they were raised with a little Jesus and they still say they believe in Jesus but just unofficially in their own personal way. Or maybe you're a person like that. Maybe your grew up with more structure, more community but something happened back in the day and you just don't have that connection. And maybe you don't feel like you need it.
If that's you or if that's someone you care about, I totally get that. I mean, churches are filled with people and people are far from perfect. So many imperfect things happen to people in churches. I've heard so many stories of people's parents who were quickly judged. Who weren't shown much compassion or grace or forgiveness and they walked away. And their kids followed. I've heard so many people who have a strong prayer life, yet they admit that church just isn't a priority and frankly don't think that that's a problem. And I've heard even more stories of people who've been wounded by the church. Who've been hurt by people like me. With a lack of compassion, a lack of empathy, a lack of patience that things blew up and it made it really, really hard to return.
You might know that one of the growing, biggest growing demographics of spirituality in our country are people who are just that. They're spiritual but they're not religious. They self-identify as the "nones"– N-O-N-E-S – because a spiritual affiliation, a religious church? They have none. So the question I want us to wrestle with today is this. What does Jesus think? What does Jesus think about people who are spiritual but not religious? Who have a personal connection, but not an official membership? Because, the truth is Jesus knows. I mean he knows all that garbage that happened to your parents. He know all the stuff that's happened to you. He knows all the circumstances.
And even more, Jesus hates that stuff more than you do. I mean if you're disgusted with hypocrisy and greed. Of people who lead churches but they don't have good Christian character. I guarantee you that Jesus hates it a thousand times more. So the Jesus who knows all that – what does he think? I want to focus our attention today on just one verse from the book of Hebrews, chapter 10. Apparently, way back in the first century, just after Jesus returned to heaven, people got in the habit of being spiritual but not religious. And that passage says let's not get into that habit. Let's encourage each other. Let's spur one another on towards love and good deeds.
This week I want to talk about the whys behind that clear what. Like, why would God insist on that? Why would God want us to have some kind of organization, some kind of community, some kind of authority over us instead of just a personal relationship with Him? I know that's a big question that affects so many of us, our friends and our families. Let's open God's word this week. And let's find out why God wants us to be rightly religious and not just spiritual. Would you pray with me?
Dear God, I pray for everyone who has been wounded by the church. I pray, even thinking of my own sins, I haven't always pastored people well and I cringe to think that they might not have a strong connection with you because of me. So I pray for forgiveness for those who've hurt us. I pray for forgiveness for myself. I pray, God, that you would reconnect us to a group of people who can encourage us when we feel discouraged. Who can spur us on when we've gotten complacent. And more than anything, who can lead us back to you, your grace and your Son. We pray these things, God, in your beautiful name. Amen.