I Never Thought of “Saints” Like This
Can’t say I use the word “saints” very often. Growing up in the church, I have certainly heard it before. Reading my Bible, I have certainly seen it before. I just don’t use it much. Maybe that’s because the picture is always of some dead holy person. Saint So-And-So did this, sacrificed that, or died some horrible death. Never seemed like something – or someone – I could relate to.
Yesterday, I saw this old word in a new light. After three weekends on the road, I was at my home church. My pastor is at the beginning of a who-knows-how-long journey through Romans. Paul pens this letter to all in Rome, who are loved by God and called to be saints. (Romans 1:7 NIV84)
Doug (my pastor) discussed how the word saints means “set apart to be holy.” Got it. Makes sense. But then he pointed out two truths that won’t allow me to dismiss this word as something I’ll never relate to or live up to. Here’s the first:
We are all saints. We are saints because of our calling, not because of our accomplishments.
I have read Romans many times. I have internalized it. I have presented it. Yet I have never noticed that the words loved and called come right before the word saints. Sainthood is part of our identity, not something we can achieve. We can never be saintly apart from God loving us and calling us into it. You and I can’t earn sainthood or become saints. We already are. Beautiful.
A bit later came another Truth #2:
The word saints is never used in the Bible in a singular form. It is ALWAYS plural.
Oh… and it’s used a lot! Sixty-eight times. Always plural. We are loved and called to be saints. No one is singled out as a saint. No one is called a saint. No one is celebrated, honored, or revered as a saint. WE are saints. Together. Our saint-ness (and yes, I know I just made that word up) is discovered, nurtured, and experienced in community. I absolutely love the picture of a community of saints, loved, called, and set apart to be holy.
How have you seen sainthood lived out in community? What could it look like?