Since about 1980, the use of the word ‘spirituality' has increased about 5 times. Whereas the use of the word ‘religion’ is largely unchanged. Why is this? What do we now mean when we talk about ‘spirituality'?
My read is most people think of religion as practices of the institutional church. Like going to a reception where the food is ‘alternate drop’. You get what you are served. The kitchen cooks what it is good at cooking. Whereas ‘spirituality’ is like going to a buffet. You get to choose your own combination because you know what works for you. I’ll have a bit of this and a bit of that, with none of that.
There is a big difference between the two. In one the chef decides what is best for you. In the other, you decide.
If I am correct, what might a person who thinks of themselves as ‘spiritual’ think as they approach the topic of Gifts of the Holy Spirit?
It is possible they think – I would like this gift please – it suits my personal tastes. Or: I would not like this gift - not for me thanks - it does fit the way that I express my spirituality.
It is difficult to align either of these responses with Scripture. Paul tells us that the Spirit “distributes them to each one, just as he determines.” (1 Cor 12:11) Further, the Spirit distributes the gifts to be used in service under God, so that everyone may be built up for the common good. (1 Cor 12:4-7)
God is the ultimate chef, who knows what you, and everyone else at the banquet needs. He asks his waiter (the Holy Spirit) to distribute the gifts you need to bless your fellowship as you minister to their needs. That is Spirit-Filled Spirituality. Are you open to that?
Rev David Rietveld