I’m not really sure of the backgrounds of the people who are reading these entries. Hopefully there’s some diversity. I might even hope this might reach some folks who are “seekers” and not sure what they believe. But quite frankly I expect that most people who read this are coming from an Evangelical Protestant background. If what I’m about to say is something you already know, then I apologize. Maybe you just needed a good reminder of something.
But there’s a good possibility there might be someone reading this who comes from a church background in which the term “saint” is a source of confusion. You were raised to think that “saints” are some especially holy men and women who are/were closer to God than you could ever hope to be. You might've even been encouraged to pray to such people, because they have a special “in” that your paltry prayers could never achieve.
Let me put this just as gently as I can: That’s pure nonsense. Let’s take a look at what Paul himself said about this subject.
The Greek word translated “saint” is the same word from which we get the words “holy” and "sanctfied." It could also be rendered as “set apart” or “other” or “different.” If you see it in different translations, you might see it translated as any of these. In the NIV reading for today, it's rendered as "called to be God's holy people."
That’s literally what a “saint” is. It’s a person who’s set apart from the rest. Nothing more, nothing less.
By the way, that’s a concept related to the Church itself. Remember what the word for church is? It’s ekklesia, literally “called out ones.”
Dear brother or sister in Christ, I’ve got news for you. You’re a saint. You might not act like it all the time—I certainly don’t. But I am. It’s not dependant on what I do or how I perform, but on who I am. Or more precisely, whose I am. When you were called by God and received salvation in Jesus Christ, you became a saint. He pulled you out of the crowd, cleansed you by his blood, and called you to a new purpose.
Want some more proof? Do you have any idea just how screwed up the Corinthian church was? I don’t know how much hair Paul had on his head, but he definitely had less of it after dealing with them. They had problems with blatant sexual immorality, infighting, factions, and even flirtations with heresy. And Paul called them saints ("holy people") at the beginning of his letter to them.
Again, I’m a practical theologian. That means whenever I see some grand concept in theology, I ask “So what?” What does this mean?
First, take comfort. God has called you and set you apart. It’s not dependent on your performance. It’s dependent on Christ, who he is and what he did and what he does. You are holy and righteous in him.
Second, don’t get too comfortable. You were called to be a saint. First and foremost that means you’re called to be different. If you tell the same jokes as everyone else in the office, that’s a problem. If you strike back when someone insults you or stabs you in the back, that’s not being different. If you just want to blend in the background and be just like everyone else, that’s unacceptable.
Become who you really are.
Lord, you have pretty high expectations, don’t you? By your grace and in your power, I want to show who I am, whose I am. In the way I talk, the way I act, and in the way I think. That’s what I want.