During his first visit to the local prison a newly commissioned chaplain was, speaking to an inmate when another inmate interrupted him, asking: "Are you one of those religious types here to preach to us?"

The chaplain explained that he was there to talk about spirituality, not religion. The inmate grumbled, "Religion, spirituality — what's the difference?"

Before he could answer, the first inmate spoke up. "I'll tell you the difference," he said. "Religion is for people who are afraid of going to hell. Spirituality is for those of us who've already been there."

The inmate was right. It can be said that religion is for those primarily interested in self-preservation, those looking for fire insurance. For those who have already been through the fire, Jesus offers what religion cannot: restoration, peace, and fulfillment.

Jesus calls us out of the religious life into the spiritual life... a life with him, not mere rules and regulations, at the center.

He said, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me shall never hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst." (John 6:35)

We have a tendency to grade our Christian walk based on how well we keep the rules on any given day. I wouldn't suggest that we start breaking the rules, but I would suggest that we shift our focus from them to Him—especially if the religious life tends to leave you hungry.

Exchange “what’s the difference?” for “what a difference!” Try it. Set aside the demands and expectations you place on yourself. Let go of the disappointments that so often stand in your way. Turn, once again, to Jesus, and him alone. Ask him to take away the hunger and thirst...to fill your life with his presence. And take him at his word: "The one who comes to me, I will by no means cast out." (John 6:36)


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