Gospel. Community. Mission. Prayer. Kingdom. Family. Serve. Attract. Worship. Praise. Teach. Preach. Justice. Sacraments. These are all words used to describe identity of a follower of Jesus. No matter how you approach church one of these words I’m sure describes something about your church experience. Think about all the church mission statements you know of, one key identity that is missing is, Saint.
It seems we have forgotten this key identity in the church. I know that we get to it eventually in how we do church. Don’t hear me wrong. I know it gets taught eventually and you might say it is intuitive. But what we talk about and emphasize matters. I wonder if we are scared of this word. Let’s try saying it out loud, “You are a Saint.” Now say this out loud, “I am a saint.” How did that make you feel? If you are like me as you are saying that you are thinking I am no saint. But you are a saint. If you are in Christ you are a saint.
In some tribes to be labeled a saint takes a lifetime of living religiously and even have to preform some kind of miracle. But this is not what we find in scripture. The Apostle Paul opens nearly every letter by calling us saints. He says, “To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ, to the saints, and to all the saints in Christ Jesus. Peter, in 1 Peter 2:9 calls us a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation. You are a saint.
I think that we avoid this identity because we are scared of it. There are two reasons why we would be scared of it. First, we would be scared of the word saint because of baggage in the past. Maybe we grew up in an environment where legalism ran the church. Maybe it was an environment where you were called a sinner because of the way you dressed or something else petty like that. It would be easy to avoid calling people to sainthood for fear that we would become legalistic.
Second, we might be scared to call people to holiness. In this changing American culture we like to behave however we want. There is a standard of living the scriptures call us to. Are we afraid to pursue it? If you are a leader in the church are you pursuing a life of holiness? We won’t call people to a life we aren’t living ourselves.
I think the church is missing it in this area. In my tribe we have missed this key identity piece. I find it interesting that our sainthood is the identity Paul starts with in his writings. He doesn’t start with family, missionaries, servants, disciples but saints. Our identity as saints is really Paul’s whole premise for his writings. Throughout all of his letters he describes why we are saints, it isn’t because of anything we do but everything Jesus has done, is doing, and will do. Paul then calls us to walk into our sainthood.
I wonder what would happen with our churches if we started at sainthood. The gospel isn’t just good news for a future reality but it is good news for right now. Because of the gospel of Jesus you are a saint. Then everything else flows from that. So, wake up and start walking in the reality that you are a saint and you get to live like one.