Week 4: The Best Costume
Many of us have heard the phrase, “It’s about relationship, not religion.” This idea captures the heart of God, that relationships are at the core of life. Without relationships, “doing the right thing” really wouldn’t even matter. In fact, “doing the right things” without “having the right heart” is exactly what religion is all about. Just like the very best of all Halloween costumes, Religion dresses up like God and looks so close to the real thing it deceives us. It focuses on right actions but cares little for right relationships. It’s all about being good and not at all about being loved. God wants your obedience, but He also wants your love.
1. How do you think “Religion” as an idol tries to meet your four core needs? (Identity, Security, Community, Purpose)
2. The speaker said Sunday, “Religion tells us about God yet keeps us from being with God.” How has this been true in your life?
3. Read Luke 15:1-3. The pastor also said, “Jesus hangs out with people religion throws out.” Think about someone you typically avoid, or maybe even dislike a great deal. How does it make you feel to know that Jesus loves the person you dislike? How do you think this should impact your attitude toward others?
4. Read verses 3-8. What do these verses tell us about God’s heart for people? Do you feel you reflect this kind of love? Why or why not?
5. Read Luke 15:11-32. How does the younger son show Religion in his life? How did he think his father would respond when he came home, and how did his father actually respond?
6. How did the older brother show Religion in his life? Why was he mad at his father? How did his father respond to him?
7. Each of us at TFF plays a role in introducing people to God, and we have to choose whether we will be real loving or real religious. In other words, we can respond to a lost world as a loving Father would, or we can respond like the older angry brother would. Do you think we should be a “loving Father” church or an “older brother” church? What part do you think you play in this?
Spend some time with God this week taking an internal “audit.” Where do you see Religion rear it’s ugly head in your life? Where do you sense God has replaced religion with compassion? Are you able to forgive yourself and others for failure? Do you believe that God loves you regardless of your past? Do you believe God loves others regardless of their past? If the answer is “no” or “I’m not sure” to any of these questions, you’ve got your finger on a part of your life that is susceptible to a religious outlook. Write those down in a journal or a notecard and pray over those areas daily. If you can find the courage, ask your LifeGroup leader to pray with you and check on you.
CHANGING YOUR MIND
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him! Psalm 34:8