With an estimated 4,200 religions in existence today, it’s understandable why many people are confused about religion and spirituality. While some consider one to be different from the other, the others believe they are just one and the same.
By definition, religion refers to one’s belief in God or gods. It can also mean a system of belief or worship that involves a code of ethics. It involves believing in a set of beliefs or rituals that enable an individual to develop a positive relationship with God.
Spirituality, on the other hand, refers to the quality or act of being spiritual or having a spiritual character shown through one’s thoughts and life. In short, the focus is on the spiritual world instead of the physical or earthly things. Spirituality inspires while religion is geared towards preaching.
Here are some of their differences as pointed out by those who have expertise in these two subject matters. They may not, however, be what people believe they should.
Religion is authoritative while spirituality is liberating
Religion can be authoritative in the sense that the church imposes its teachings to its people. As majority of people grow up in authoritative cultures, following a single religion based on what they were born in becomes part of their life until adulthood when perhaps some would question it and then turn to another religion or totally shun it.
Spirituality, however, liberates people from the authority they’ve been used to. It is said that spirituality frees the soul from the fear-based prison developed by the church and state. It frees people from the so-called man-made laws and can be developed through one’s own efforts including finding inspiration in every day life and even in inspiring stories shared online such as on The Way International.
Religion pampers but stagnates while spirituality helps in growth
Religion promotes contentment and pampering. When an individual is committed to his religion, he or she normally feels comfortable and peaceful with his life and the teachings of his chosen religion. As the person obeys religious laws despite them being developed by men, one feels contented and happy about his life.
On the other hand, spirituality questions these outdated religious laws and does not promote fear in an individual. In short, a spiritual person has an open-mind and can serve as the light during dark times. Their thoughts are not limited to the laws of a certain religion but rather, they have the courage to explore their spirituality in a way that they prefer.
Religion is codependent while spirituality is interdependent
Religion is said to be codependent on the church and state. The church is a vital component of any religion as it is where members gather to worship together and take part in other religious services. It also has a religious authority who leads the congregation and sub-authorities who help perform the main services and assist the church in achieving its goals.
As for spirituality, it is interdependent and does not submit to any religious authority. This means a person may not follow a certain religion but he or she remains to be very spiritual. The individual is free to nurture his spiritual life the way he or she wants it without having to submit to any religion. In such a situation, interdependence is free to take place.
While these differences have been noted, both religion and spirituality can still be a path towards developing a relationship with God.
Religion specifically points to the presence of God and that people are accountable to Him. Spirituality can support this in the sense that it makes people realize that the physical world is not the end all and that there’s a world beyond what we are seeing and feeling. It also points to the fact that we need to connected with someone beyond this physical world that we live in.