Over a quarter of American adults identify themselves as “spiritual but not religious,” according to a 2017 Pew Research report. The researcher explains that many who favor the term “spiritual,” but reject the adjective “religious,” view institutional religion as harmful. Some believe that the only spiritual authority they need is a private, internal one, rather than an external, institutional one. While they long for transcendence, meaning, and the experience of knowing God, they are skeptical of churches.
If we ever think of “spiritual but not religious” as a label for the twenty-first century alone, read Mark’s description of the synagogue crowd—religious skepticism is thriving. But on this occasion, they hear something new. Jesus’ teaching astounds his hearers, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes (v. 22b).
After Jesus heals the man with the unclean spirit, they continue to marvel at his authority. They were all amazed, and they kept asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching—with authority? He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him” (v. 27).
This story reminds us that authentic words of faith have power to change lives. Jesus’ words astound, challenge, heal, and inspire. Perhaps those who claim to be “spiritual but not religious” have only experienced the limited fellowship of scribes. We all need to be astounded and amazed by what the genuine words of Jesus can do when we hear them.
When have you been astounded and amazed by the genuine words of Jesus?
Jesus, your words create something new. They change minds, inspire visions, mend hearts, heal the broken. Help me hear your words today and share them in some way. Amen.