October 14, 2009 by

What Is "Spiritual?"


Categories: Things that make our brains hurt

Okay…brain rattling time again…

We throw some words around without really knowing what they mean–or perhaps we have differing meanings in our minds for them.

A lot of times I’ll hear someone say about their current journey (and I’ve said it myself): “I don’t feel very spiritual right now.” Or we’ll otherwise differentiate “spiritual” activity from other activities, or classify certain things as “spiritual” and others as “non-spiritual.”

You know, I think even Paul did this a little bit. He would talk about the difference between natural and spiritual sometimes, and on a couple of occasions he admonished the church to sing psalms, hymns, and “spiritual songs.” He didn’t just say, “songs”–he classified them as “spiritual” as opposed to other kinds of songs.

So what I’m tossing on the table is this: What do we mean by “spiritual?” What would make some activities spiritual (as opposed to just “religious”), and some activities not so? What sorts of things are spiritual? What does “spiritual” mean?

Okay, I’ve thrown down the mess; now let’s see if we can sort it out a little. 🙂

What do you think? Spill it….

Musician. Composer. Recovering perfectionist. Minister-in-transition. Lover of puns. Hijacker of rock song references. Questioner of the status quo. I'm not really a rebel. Just a sincere Christ-follower with a thirst for significance that gets me into trouble. My quest has taken me over the fence of institutional Christianity. Here are some of my random thoughts along the way. Read along, join in the conversation. Just be nice.

6 Responses to What Is "Spiritual?"

  1. Anonymous

    When I get a nudge to help my neighbor in need, to me that is spiritual. When I sit in a church and follow along with the program that they ushers passed out, that is religious.

  2. Sabrina

    I can relate to what you're saying.. We don't look at ourselves as spiritual beings that are just walking around in fleshly bodies. So I guess if we looked at it that way, then everything we do is spiritual. Even the ugly stuff that we don't think God sees.

  3. Tyler Dawn

    LOL… yeah, I know in the past when I have said it I have meant something very specific. Sometimes it feels like I can feel God in every fiber of my body, I can see Him everywhere and in everything and then at other times I feel very blah. During the later times i would have said that i do not feel spiritual.

    HOWEVER, now i look at it a bit differently. The former times are easy-peasy, and I don't have to "feel" spiritual because it seems like God is doing that for me! It is during the latter times when I am in fact the most spiritual, when I am hanging on to Him even when I don't feel like it and can't remember why I ever did.

  4. Jeff McQ

    These are all good insights! Thanks!

    Yeah, I lean toward what Sabrina said…with a life lived unto God, everything is potentially spiritual, because we don't stop being spiritual beings at any given moment. We can be focused on the spiritual aspect or not, but I think the natural affects the spiritual, and vice versa.

    BTW, I see Paul's reference to "spiritual songs" as the same Greek word used for "spiritual" gifts, referring perhaps more to their supernatural aspect than whether or not the songs were about spiritual matters. Just in case anyone wanted to know… 🙂

  5. chris

    Okay, I have come late to this discussion, but I have one question: Have you read Practicing the Presence of God, by Brother Lawrence? It is a short book, comprised mostly of his letters.

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