I was recently part of a conversation about ‘true saints.’ We acknowledged the fact that for most people, the term ‘saint’ brings to mind either people who are dead or who are alive but are very special because of their deep faith. It got me thinking about the richness of sainthood but also about the lack of understanding of sainthood. Unfortunately that lack of understanding leads to anemic living. That’s why I love the way the apostle Paul begins his letter to the church at Philippi.
“Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:…” (Philippians 1:1 RSV). Paul is writing to the saints in Philippi – to all the believers in Philippi. The truth is if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you are a saint. If you have received Jesus Christ as your Savior and accepted Him as Lord of your life, you are a saint. True sainthood is an assigned designation not an achieved status. It is given, not earned. It is a status for the living not for the dead. When you come to believe in Jesus Christ, you are given the destiny and dignity of being a saint.
And that empowers you vibrant living. It means you are assigned, designated, set apart to glorify Jesus. You simply need to be who you are. In the Old Testament God designated certain things and places as ‘holy’, meaning they were to be used only in sacred ways and for sacred purposes. In the New Testament God designated people as ‘holy’, to live in a sacred way and to be used for sacred purposes. Paul says your permanent address is in Christ Jesus. Your zip code may be Philippi, Corinth, New York City, South Haven, Kalamazoo, or Chicago…it may not be next year what it is today. But your permanent address is in Christ Jesus – it never changes. No matter where you live or how popular you are or are not, you are rooted in Jesus Christ and your identity comes from Him.
It also means you are special and valuable, because God has chosen to have his Son Jesus shine through you. It’s said pictorially in a little poem entitled ‘What Is A Saint?’
“What is a saint?” the youngster asked; So his parents set out to explain.
By describing Saint Francis, and Bernadette They attempted to make it plain.
They told of Matthew, Mark and Luke, and ended with John and Paul;
But the boy just couldn’t relate to this and didn’t grasp it at all.
Then the parents went to their church and showed him The stained glass windows there; The faces of the elect shone out As they preached or knelt in prayer.
The boy was asked if he understood, And he said, “I think I do;
From what I’ve seen, I’d say a saint Is a person the light shines through.”
No matter what others say or think, you are holy, you belong to Jesus Christ and He is wanting to shine His light through you.
I wonder – what if we were all more ‘saintly’ in our living, being the special persons we are. What difference would it make in our lives – and in the lives of those around us – and in our communities – and in our world? I encourage you to embrace your position and identity as a saint – let His light shine through you.