Scriptures: Revelation 7:9-14; 1 John 3:1–3; Matthew 5:1-1
As it is in so many instances, the world ends up taking a biblical term and secularizing it. This time, with the word ‘saint’, and in this case, even the church (in the worst sense of the word, read institution) has contributed to the misunderstanding. The dictionary defines word ‘saint’ as: 1. One officially recognized through canonization. Sounds like we make saints by standing folks up against the wall and giving them death by cannonball to move them into the category of saint, read left this life to another. (tongue in cheek of course) The largest falsehood with this definition is that there is only One who can make a saint and He is not the church, rather He is the Head of the church, that is Christ. Other earthly definitions and synonyms are: one eminent for piety or virtue; reputable persons, angels, cherub, seraph, the good, the righteous, pious or even simply, religious. No wonder when we celebrate All Saints Sunday the questions arise, ‘What are saints?’ and ‘Why should I care?’
A quick survey of God’s Word declares that the only correct answer to the question, ‘Who are these (saints)?’ is definition #3 in the dictionary – one of God’s chosen. Scripturally there is no way we can become a true saint by our own right living. We do not become a saint because we are good, right, religious, or even angelic. We become a saint because God calls (Romans 1:7, 1 Corinthians 1:2), declares us, or qualifies us (Colossians 1:2). The Revelation passage for the day and others you can read (Rev 5:9, 22:14) say that we are saints because we have washed our robes white in the blood of the Lamb and that we have been purchased by Jesus’ finished work for us.
The right understanding of the word saint in the scriptures declares we are totally ‘other’, ‘different’, or ‘separate’ from the world because our ‘likeness of nature is with the Lord’ bought and paid for by HIM. And there are benefits to being one of God’s saints. The Word says that God: preserves His saints (Psalm 31:32, 97:10); makes sure His saints, lack nothing (Psalm 34:9); watches over the way of His saints (Proverbs 2:8). Even the death of the saints is precious in His sight (Psalm 116:15) This year’s loss to us, namely, Maxine, Jim, Paul, Art, Mervin, and Annie, has not gone unnoticed by the One who made them saints. Nor does His eye wander from us who are left to wait. We too have, by virtue of our faith in Christ, already crossed over into being saints.
As we wait for our transition from earth to sight, we live in the strength and power given us in our baptism. The real way to see our lives here on earth is to read about all the ‘great saints’ (all broken sinful human beings just like us) in Hebrews 11 and then with the writer, recognize that they are not really gone, just gone from sight, and now comprise a great cloud of witnesses who encourage us to run the race of life, tossing off the wrong that weighs us down and truly living the ‘saintly’ life given us by Christ.