Last night we started back our weekly middle school large group called Merge. We had a packed house and it was great to see the familiar faces of our 8th grade students and welcome our 7th graders to Merge.
Our first series is called The Red Stuff and we are looking at several passages of scripture, seeing what Jesus has to say, and then applying that to our lives.
We had two main points as we looked at what Jesus had to say about religion.
1) Religion focuses on the outward appearance, but Jesus focuses on the heart
2) Religion focuses on what we need to do, but Jesus focuses on what He was going to do
We needed to get a common definition for religion and came up with this working one for our time: What you have to do to get to God.
Jesus had so much conflict with the religious leaders of His day because they kept burdening people with rules and regulations to be more Godly. Jesus came with a completely different message: trust in me. Forget the rules and regulations and what you do on the outside. Jesus was and is focused on our hearts-the part of ourselves that we can’t clean up or fake.
The challenge for us is not that much different than those in Jesus day. It’s far easier for us to approach our relationship with Christ as a check list instead of checking our hearts to make sure they are lining up with Christ. We are all challenged by this fact, no matter what our age.
I think this series is going to take us to some good places and challenge students and myself to examine how we approach our relationship with Christ in light of what He tells us.