Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.
Am I set apart for Christ? Is my Christianity a matter of convenience or is it a matter of radical faith in Christ that realigns all my allegiances and alliances?
In our decades of service in Asia we knew many people who, because they took the claims of Christ seriously, were ostracized by their families and friends. Harmonious relationships and smooth interactions with others are cardinal Asian values, but these individuals risked it all, went in a way entirely different from their culture, to identify with Christ.
“I am a follower of Jesus of Nazareth called The Christ,” is the simplest Christian profession. This profession and this faith will inevitably lead us to some type of disassociation with the world. We are in the world but not of the world – like a bottle in the ocean that does not have the ocean inside of it. In the Christian faith there is love and gracious acceptance between believers – and this love extends outwardly toward others for as God loved this fallen world, so we are also to love it. But we can never accept its values and ways. Our hearts are different, our values and choices in life are according to what pleases our Savior and Lord, and not what pleases the world. We are able to say in Christ that we wish all people well, but we must also understand ourselves as being set apart exclusively for the will and purpose of Christ.
Jesus went further in His teaching, because He brought the issues right down to the family level. “From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother…” (Luke 12:52-53). We must love Christ more than any other relationship we experience in life. There are situations where we can get along with people with diversely different faith or no faith at all. We may recall old memories, sit and eat at family reunions, even celebrate holidays together, but our hearts will also be set apart from theirs.
We who believe have been raised up with Christ, and heaven is where our hearts are. We died and our lives are now hidden with Christ in God. The values of this world and of our pre-Christian past are to be done away with: sexual immorality, lust, greed, anger, rage, malice, lying, and filthy language. Instead in our hearts we are to crown Christ as Lord and live daily in the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit, as we “have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator” (Col 3:1-10).
Our hearts belong to someone else – to the Lord Jesus Christ.