What’s it like to lead a life that’s spiritual, but not traditionally religious? Answers vary, but perhaps not as wildly as one might expect.
A recent TODAY survey indicated that 77 percent of participants see a difference between religion and spirituality, with more than 70 percent of respondents indicating it’s more important to be spiritual than religious.
Perhaps among those who identify with that latter majority is Suzi Lula, who prays and expresses gratitude on a daily basis. Raised by a Jewish mother and Christian father, Lula says she found comfort in being raised with religious traditions, but discovered a deeper connection once she attended events through Culver City, California’s Agape International Spiritual Center.
“To me, spirituality is the best of what any religion is seeking to offer,” Lula told TODAY’s Erica Hill. “When I found Agape, it really felt more like a community where the spiritual essence that I was looking for was just infused.”
A transdenominational movement founded by Rev. Michael Beckwith in 1986, Agape claims some 9,000 local members and 1 million “friends worldwide” — all on a quest to find deeper spirituality.
“I think that sometimes there’s a misconception that spiritual people are airy-fairy,” he said. “I would say it’s just the opposite: that a deeply spiritual person is trying to manifest their gifts and their talents in this world to change the world for the better.”
Discussions about God, acts of prayer, and an emphasis on service mirror elements of religion, but Agape doesn’t offer the traditional structure many Americans associate with religion.
“God is a presence that’s never in absence,” Beckwith said. “This presence is everywhere, so, you would never pray for God to come here, because the presence of God is infinite.”
Rev. Linda Mercadante was raised in an interfaith, nonreligious home, but yearned for something more as a young adult. After her own spiritual journey, she found fulfillment in the structure of organized religion.
SOURCE: Chris Serico