“I’m not religious, I’m spiritual.”
I used to say this after I fell away in my faith. It’s the kind of thing someone might say if they were hurt by the church, or if they’re struggling with agnosticism, or maybe they’re dealing with spiritual forces that aren’t from God. For me, it was all three, but it was the manifestation of the third one that put me on a trajectory towards hell.
Several years ago I was active in the church. I played guitar in the praise band, I was in a Christian rock back, and I was in church every Sunday. I even started going to Bible studies. Then something awesome and terrible happened; I was offered a position in the church council. Sounds great if you know what it entails. I didn’t and I was shocked to find out how political and money-driven it was.
There was a lot of pressure on me to do young adult ministry with zero budget, which meant I would need to come out of pocket. I was already struggling financially and it put more strain as I tried to do a lot with very little. Ultimately, it didn’t work and I asked to step down. I thought it would be cool to acknowledge that I couldn’t handle it and that the church would understand. Instead, I felt a chasm form.
It may have been in my mind, but at the time it felt like a void I couldn’t fill. I felt like they were looking at me differently. Maybe they were, maybe they weren’t; but there was something else in play that drove me further away.
I was still in the Navy and in my third command. I had gone from a place where I had a Christian friend to talk about Jesus to, and found myself in a place where I was surrounded by people who essentially hated God. They would harass me about being a Christian and I would take it, not knowing the best thing to do. I grew angry and resentful, but that anger was less towards them and more towards God. The wear and tear took a few years, but it wore me to the point that I questioned my faith in Jesus. By this point my church life was over, my community with other believers was over, and I was seeking something that made sense to me.
I found it in science fiction; more specifically I found it in UFO conspiracy theories. The ancient astronaut nonsense manipulated history to the point that nearly anything seemed reasonable. I would joke about it being an idea bed for my own writing, but that was merely giving myself permission to keep poisoning my mind. The deeper I got into it, the worse it got. I branched out beyond UFO conspiracies and got into political conspiracies. They aren’t too far apart from one another and the leap was easy. I’m patriotic. I liked the idea of space and potential other lifeforms. And I can totally convince myself of a falsehood if I construct it well enough in my own head. There’s a reason most of these people are also writers (L Ron Hubbard made a religion from his fiction).
The next thing I knew I was an anxiety-ridden, agnostic with false ideas of truth. The thing about truth is, there is only the truth and everything else is lies. The idea that I have my truth and you have yours is a lie. You can’t have your cake and eat it too if your mind convinces yourself of falsehoods. Just because you think it doesn’t make it a reality; just like refusing to accept a truth doesn’t make it false.
Those conspiracies I got wrapped up in were lies with a coat of fresh paint. They were a distraction from the truth to separate me from God. That might sound odd, but evil spiritual forces don’t need to convince you that God doesn’t exist. They simply need to get you to not think about Him. once you’re on the downward spiral, they win, you lose, and the jig is up.
Here’s the absolute truth, God is real, and the warfare in our minds is spiritual in nature. In the Bible, Jesus cast out demons which plagued people, turning them mad. Look around you, the world is mad. There’s a level of mass psychosis that takes effect. It comes from influences that remove God from your attention. The actual conspiracies taking place are the ones where the government wants to be your God, so they remove the real God from everything. No God in school. No God is business. No God in entertainment. No God in culture because it might offend someone. All the while, the government gains more power and authority over you.
We were born to have communion with our Creator. Spiritual forces, not from God, have been seeking to destroy that since the fall of man. Jesus came to restore and redeem our place in God’s creation.
Fifty years ago you would think this nation was a Christian nation. Now look at it. We’re ungodly and self-righteous. What isn’t a conspiracy is that this level of falling away was predicted in the Bible for the last days. There are numerous prophecies regarding the period of history we are in and the final pages of the final chapter are coming to an end. This is about to get very real for some people.
It doesn’t matter if you don’t like God’s rules for your life. He’s God and you are not. He makes the rules and you do not. Refusing to recognize that your disobedience is your fault, and not God’s, makes you willfully ignorant (deliberately stupid). But what’s amazing is that despite being a liar, a murderer, an adulterer, a thief, or someone who just doesn’t want to “get it”, God paved the way for your salvation by giving His son Jesus Christ to die for your sins. He’s the sacrifice that redeems your soul, warts and all.
Here’s the deal. You don’t have to clean yourself up before turning to Jesus. But once you turn yourself to Jesus, you should know that He will be the one cleaning you up. His Holy Spirit will convict you of your sins to deter you from doing the things that lead to your spiritual death. That’s not punishment. That’s keeping you away from punishment.
“I’m not religious, I’m spiritual.” That’s what people say when they don’t want to admit the truth that Jesus is the only way to the Father. Saying that you’re not religious, but spiritual, and declaring that as your truth is self-condemning. You’ve yanked out your own heart and tossed it into the fire. Believe me, I know because I used to say it. Thank God He showed me the path out from the hell in which I was heading.