Making saints?

I visited my grandson’s school this week for Grandparent’s Day. The priest of the sponsoring parish spoke to us about their mission which includes ‘making saints.’ When he said it a ripple of laughter went through the room. We grandparents know our grandkids and we love them, but we know they are no saints, or are they?  While we may think of great souls or martyrs as ‘saints’ the truth is that all Christians are to be saints!  Paul addressed the very ordinary believers in his letter to the Romans as you who “are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 1:7-8, NIV)

Sainthood is not about comparison with other people.  If we want to make ourselves feel more holy, we can always find someone who is doing horrible things, think mass murderers, and by comparison we are nice people! That works the other way, too. If I compare myself to say, Mother Theresa, my sense of sainthood evaporates quickly! Sainthood is not about earning the applause of others, either.  Social media has taught us how easy it can be to construct a public image that is completely disconnected from reality.  We can look saintly for a couple of hours on Sunday or in a moment of service, but are we equally godly when our spouse is aggravating or life is disappointing?  True saints are saintly even when nobody’s looking.

Sainthood is not about compiling a record of good works or holy deeds. Didn’t you think this saint thing was exactly that? Well, it is, kind of. Saints are loving, kind, contented, and godly ….   it is because they are saints. Goodness flows from our identity as God’s own people, from His Spirit. Sainthood is inside out, not outside in.  Saints ought to do things like volunteer to serve in the local fire department, visit those who confined in sick beds, offer to coach Little League, give of their resources to church and charity, join the Peace Corp, be kind to children, adopt a dog from the local animal shelter… are you exhausted yet? But, if you could earn a ‘saint’ certificate the question becomes, when do you reach the point of getting the award?

Here is the truth- God declares you and me to be saints, not because we’re good enough, but because Christ Jesus gives us status we cannot earn, His perfect righteousness, to us. In common terms, we are saints because of Who we know, not because of what we do! Yes, I really am St. Jerry.  (Stop laughing!)  The practical evidence of that status is still being worked out in my life. Repeatedly Paul addresses his letters to ‘the saints.’  “The Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.” (Romans 8:27, NIV)  He speak “to the saints… the faithful in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 1:1, NIV)

Did that first century Church have a lot of very holy, especially wonderful, extraordinarily spiritually gifted people?  Here is what I know for certain – those people to whom those letters were addressed were Christians just like you and me- some days very good and some days, not so holy at all.  Regardless, in Christ they were and we are always saints. Here’s what we must never forget: a saint is a person who is called to be one of God’s own people, whose sins are forgiven in Christ Jesus, and in whom the Spirit of God is presently at work! All those who are ‘in Christ’ are saints. Sainthood is “Not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship…”

Summing up I’d say, we aren’t saints because we’re better than someone else, or because some church nominates us for a special fraternity, or because we have checked off a certain number of boxes in the good works ledger! We are saints because He called us to be saints. Peter reminds us of the work of the Holy Trinity that is doing a transformational work in us. “I am writing to God’s chosen people [saints] . . . God the Father chose you long ago, and the Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed Jesus Christ and are cleansed by his blood.” (1 Peter 1:1-2 NLT)

So, dear saint, give thanks today for that high and holy calling. Focus on the faithfulness of the One who called you into His holy family. Then, make it your intent to conform your life to your true identity as one of God’s own saints.

The word from the Word says “I beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.” (Ephesians 4:1-3, NLT)

Let God’s call to sainthood shape your thoughts, your words, your hopes, your dreams … your life … today!


Oh To Be Like Thee

Oh to be like Thee
Blessed Redeemer
This is my constant
Longing and prayer
Gladly I’ll forfeit
All of earth’s treasures
Jesus Thy perfect
Likeness to wear

Oh to be like Thee
Oh to be like Thee
Blessed Redeemer
Pure as Thou art
Come in Thy Sweetness
Come in Thy Fullness
Stamp Thine own Image
Deep on my heart

Oh to be like Thee
Full of compassion
Loving forgiving
Tender and kind
Helping the helpless
Cheering the fainting
Seeking the wandering
Sinner to find

Oh to be like Thee
While I am pleading
Pour out Thy Spirit
Fill with Thy Love
Make me a temple
Meet for Thy Dwelling
Fit me for life
And Heaven above

Oh to be like Thee
Lowly in spirit
Holy and harmless
Patient and brave
Meekly enduring
Cruel reproaches
Willing to suffer
Others to save

Oh to be like Thee
Lord I am coming
Now to receive
The anointing divine
All that I am
And have I am bringing
Lord from this moment
All shall be Thine

Thomas Obediah Chisholm

© Words: Public Domain

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