“To all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 1:7 (NRSV)
“You’re a saint!” we might hear someone say, but most of us think of saints as people who have died and left behind a legacy of piety, amazing faith, and perfect living. Not so! According to the apostle Paul, the people in the churches are called to be saints! So what does that mean? Does being a saint mean that he have to be model Christians who rarely make mistakes and who inspire people in grand proportions? No.
Being a saint is about being God’s child and living as faithfully as we can, doing the work of Jesus Christ here on this earth. We are called to be saints because we make a difference in a world where greed and selfishness often seem to prevail. In our calling, we give of ourselves without asking for anything in return. We live out faith. Of course, we aren’t perfect, and that’s where the tarnish is noticed by those who criticize people who go to church or profess their faith.
There are many who would seek to find the faults in the faithful followers of Christ, so I think part of being faithful is to learn how to ignore those criticisms and condemnations. We do our best to follow Christ, so it is only God’s opinion that truly matters. Interestingly, the Bible passage for All Saints Day is about the raising of Lazarus, which is truly a story about all of us. In the story, Jesus calls to the dead man and commands him to come out of the tomb which he does, still bound by his grave-clothes and the cloth around his head.
We are all bound by something on this earth in our society – no matter where we live. We might be bound by materialism, jealousy, fear, anxiety, phobias, or anything that keeps us from living life fully in God’s grace. Jesus’ instructions to Mary and Martha – Lazarus’ sisters – is to unbind him and let him go. For many in today’s society, being bound by the things imposed on us by outside forces, such as bullying, domestic abuse, or illness and disease is like being dead.
Recently, I saw an article about a young boy who was bullied in school, and he killed himself. The boy was overweight, but he was the nicest guy, and yet he was bullied to the point where he lost his self-esteem and no longer wanted to live. How many people in our world are like the walking dead, bound by things of this earth or by what others think of us? What can we, as the saints of God to do change this situation?
I believe we have a responsibility to build up other (the Bible even instructs us to do that!). Our work is to bring the love, acceptance, grace, kindness, and compassion of God to others through our words, actions, and in the ways we help others know they are God’s beloved child. As those called to be God’s saints, we have a responsibility to offer hope, encouragement, support, and friendship to those who are oppressed or ostracized from others.
So, to all you who are called to be saints – remember that you have a purpose in life and that you can make a difference in someone else’s life. You may never know that you have, but that’s all right because the other person (or persons) knows and most definitely God knows! Be a saint – plant the seeds – care.