Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God. To the saints who are in Ephesus and are faithful to Christ Jesus… (Eph. 1:1-2)
In the early church, the term saint wasn’t reserved for the super-heroes of the faith; it was given to all baptized believers.
I wonder if the Body of Christ would have a more robust and vibrant life if we reclaimed that all believers in Jesus are the saints of God.
I once preached a sermon about how all Christians are called to be saints. The next Saturday an artist came to the parish hall and painted a coffee mug for everyone with their name and their new designation. One read, “St. Fred.” Another read, “St. Carol.” Another, “St. Lucia,” and so on.
A few months later I noticed that coffee hour had become kinder, calmer, and friendlier. I asked an old-timer if he noticed any change and he said that he had.
I then asked him if he had any ideas on what had brought about the change. He said, “It’s these coffee cups. When you drink out of your cup and are reminded that you’re a saint, it changes what you think and what you say. How can I say something ugly about George over there, when I’m a saint and he’s a saint?”
What makes for a saint? Saints aren’t those who have never failed, sinned, or fallen, but those who know that Jesus forgives them. Saints aren’t necessarily those who perform miracles, but those who know that the greatest miracle is to be loved by Jesus. Saints aren’t those who are always focused on getting into heaven someday, but those who believe that heaven begins as soon as they trust in Jesus.
I encourage us to claim that we’re saints. Although that designation might make us laugh or smirk, stay with it. Our being a saint isn’t something we earn; it’s something that Jesus gives and develops in us.
I believe that the old-timer was right: claiming our identity as saints can change how we think and what we say. Claiming our identity as saints will also help us grow into what we already are.
- If you thought of others as saints, would you think about, talk about, and treat them differently? If so, how?
- If you claimed that you were a saint, would you treat yourself any differently? If so, how?
- Jesus is in the saint-making business. What’s the work He needs to do in you in order for you to be the saint He calls you to be?