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Dear COA Family,

We are currently going through the sermon series on the seven “I am” sayings of Jesus. This is in line with our vision and direction for this year to grow deeper – deeper in knowledge of, faith in and love for Christ.

Yet as we study more into the sayings of Jesus, we discover that some of them can be truly shocking.

Take for example his words found in Matthew 10:34-36 addressed to his disciples:
Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law — a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’”

They sound simply outrageous. Does Jesus truly intend to sow discord within the household which God has created and brought together? What can we make of his statements?

The key to understand what he is saying is to understand it in a spiritual sense.

In God’s view, there is nothing more important than to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. This is because God has created all of humanity for himself and we are only truly fulfilled and truly living and functioning properly if we fully obey all of his commands. To love another more than God is not only to commit the sin of idolatry, but also to live a wholly deficient and defective life.

This applies even within the household. If a member of the household insists on rebelling against God and live in ways contrary to God’s commands, there is no choice for a child of God but to separate from the sinner. We cannot call bad actions good nor affirm wicked attitudes and behaviours. We cannot join in wickedness nor condone sinful thoughts and acts. There has to be a clear separation between what is holy and what is common.

Some may think that this response to our family and loved ones seems cruel. Actually, it is not. It is the most merciful and humane thing to do because it is the only way to call out sin as it truly is – sinful and destructive to the person practising it. By conforming to the words of Jesus to turn against sinners, we are actually participating in God’s work to save them from eternal damnation.

This is also what it means for us to be the “light of the world” (Matthew 5:13). Light can only shine in darkness – where there is a stark contrast between what is good and what is evil. We cannot shine for Christ if we are totally similar to the people of this world we live in.

No one will see any difference in us if our attitudes, values and mindsets are just like theirs. We can only shine if our lives are qualitatively different, which is when the Holy Spirit has transformed us by renewing our minds (Romans 12:2).

May we hear the words of Christ with faith afresh this week and let our lives be transformed to be like Him!

God bless,
Revd Ian