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Saint Tom
by Tom Goodman
April 30, 2014

Last Sunday Pope Francis made headlines when he made saints of two former popes.  The media didn't make as much fuss when I was declared a saint.

What?  You didn't know that I'm a saint?

There are at least three ways people misunderstand the word.  First, many think the word describes someone who has matured spiritually to a point above ordinary people.  "She's a saint," we say about the woman who exhibits extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure.

Second, some think "saint" is just another word for "sanctimonious."  It conjures up images like Dana Carvey's "Church Lady" character from re-runs of Saturday Night Live.  In Carvey's skits, the Church Lady would draw her lips into a disapproving pucker and sarcastically say, "Well, isn't that special?" as she began her rant against behavior she disliked.

Third, some think of a saint as a hermit in a desert lodge removed from the realities of daily life.  With the responsibilities of daily living, who's got time to be a saint?

Because of these misunderstandings, believers hesitate to call themselves "saints."  In reality, "saint" is a common title for common believers.

As you read Paul's letters, for example, notice how he addressed the believers with the phrase, "To the saints who are in Ephesus" (Ephesians 1:1), or "To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi" (Philippians 1:1).  The word "saints" is found about forty-five times in the New Testament as a title for God's people, and it shows up another twenty-three times in the Old Testament, primarily in the Psalms.  The word "saint" is a translation of the Greek word hagios, which means "holy one."

So, believer, you're a saint.  What should you do about that?

First, praise God for the status.  Your status as a "holy one" is based on what God has done for you, not what you have done for God.  So, thank him for the cleansing work of the cross!

Second, live up to the status.  God declares us "holy ones" by the work of the cross and sets out to make us "holy ones" by the work of the Spirit.  Let him mold you into someone more patient, more faithful, more disciplined, more sensitive to others' needs.

The media hasn't caught up with the news that you're a saint.  No worries, though.  I've got it on good authority that the angels rejoice (Luke 15:7, 10).


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