Be A Saint

Be A Saint

Be A Saint. 

“If you consult your own soul with complete honesty, you will see that there is one and only one reason why you are not even now a saint. You do not wholly want to be.” (William Law, A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life).

What is a saint? A willing member of the holy priesthood of all believers; someone who is determined to be in the Lord’s sanctification process; a follower of Jesus who is intentionally living into holiness; a disciple of Christ who accepts being assigned by God for a sacred purpose; a person who is set apart for service to God and thus holy; a humble believer who reminds others of God’s presence in the world; an imperfect person who is designated to represent a perfect God; a Christian believer whose behavior is increasingly separate from the sinful and worldly; a Christ-follower who is engaged in the process of being cleansed and purified in order to increase one’s usefulness to God; a believer whose life is marked by growth in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18).

We all have a decision to make. Do you want to live a good life, or a holy life? Do you want to exist as merely a good person, or a holy person? Many are searching for a life that has some teeth in it, a life that is demanding, that takes a meaningful commitment. Is being generically good, good enough for a fulfilling life? If you are basically a good person, you work hard, you wouldn’t intentionally hurt anyone, and you follow the rules for the most part, is that a high enough calling for you? The truth is that if you are satisfied with being a good person, with what amounts to a secular righteousness, you are in danger of setting the bar too low as far as life’s purpose. Do you want something more compelling that ordinary goodness in your life? A long train of spiritual heroes recommend you think about holiness, being set apart for the Master’s use. Maybe you should consider the idea of becoming a saint.

Sainthood has a P.R. problem. There are so many myths and counterfeits and misconceptions, the world wouldn’t know a true saint if it tripped over one. A typical image of a saint is a holier-than-thou, self-righteous, fun-hating stiff. A saint is viewed as a domesticated, tamed, lifeless person who loves to heap guilt on others. People make the mistake of believing that sainthood is reserved for the super-spiritual, the hyper-Christian, the pious mystic untainted by the world. With impressions like these, who would ever want to be a saint?

Eugene Peterson, in his book The Jesus Way, tries to set the record straight. “Holiness is wild and undomesticated. Holiness is an interior fire, a passion for living for God, a capacity for exuberance in living out the life of God in the details of our day-to-day lives. Holy is not a word that drains the blood out of life. It’s a word that gets the blood pumping, pulsing life through our veins and putting color in our cheeks.” 

Saints are not perfect or somehow above the riffraff of the world. There is a humble obedience in sainthood that shapes your life, allowing you to remain in the world but not conformed to the world. If you want to lead a holy life, your identity will be defined by the Lord, it will not be defined by the world’s priorities. Being holy is a way of life that is shaped by God’s life, that you will be holy because He is holy (1 Peter1:14-16; Lev. 11:45 and 20:26). Being holy means you live a life of mercy, compassion, justice. Being holy means you embrace the fact that your life, and everyone else’s, is sacred, made in the image of God. Saints aren’t afraid to claim their central identity as someone being remade into the image of Christ. Saints don’t define themselves in some gender identity, sexual identity, or even racial identity. Saints recognize their central identity as being made in the image of a loving, personal Creator. Saints embrace holiness as the destiny and purpose of life.

Just as God is distant from the world, but is still present and active within it, so will the saint. Saints have a “calibrated distance” (Rabbi Sacks) from the world, but still active within it. Just as God is set apart from the unholy, so will you. Just as God is pure, being holy means that you are in His purifying process as you are devoted to Him.

You will fulfill God’s purposes for your life if you are willing to be put to special use for Him. You are called to go beyond good and become holy, set apart for a sacred and unique use. If you want to be holy, you will live your life designated for a particular purpose, an eternal purpose. A good life is ordinary, a holy life is exceptional. A good life will blend in, a holy life will be distinctive. If you’re afraid of being different, of standing apart, then sainthood will prove difficult. As Christian author Flannery O’Conner once said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you odd.

Is this what the Lord meant when He told Moses at Mt. Sinai that the Jews, and by extension later, the Christians, were to be a kingdom of priests, holy to the Lord? Isaiah picked up on this theme in Isaiah 61:6, and John did as well in Rev. 1:6, 5:10 and 20:6. And then there is Peter telling us we believers are a part of a holy priesthood, in 1 Peter 2:5. Each believer, man or woman, boy or girl, is a priest, dedicated to sacred actions, such as representing God to the people, interceding for the people to God, offering themselves as living sacrifices, blessing the world. Each believer dedicated to God is holy, a sacred priest set apart to serve God. In Scripture, priests were not perfect by any means, they were simply designated for God’s service.

Choosing a humble holiness is like picking out a new wardrobe. You take off the old you and put on the new you. When you decide to clothe yourself in Christ, the High Priest, you spiritually wear priestly garments of splendor. You wrap yourself in a robe of righteousness, Christ’s righteousness, and you clothe yourself in truth. Accepting Biblical truth makes you holy. Scripture is your clothes closet, in which you select your wardrobe. Remember you choose a new wardrobe, not a costume. A costume is something you wear when you want to play a part, when you want to appear good for appearance’s sake. Putting on Christ means your outer life of virtue matches your inner life of faith. Your new wardrobe is a clothing line designed and stitched by God Himself. The irony is that when you put on Christ and His goodness, you go beyond mere goodness.

In considering this question of a good life vs. a holy life, of clothing yourself in truth, some of you might be feeling guilty. Perhaps you have had weak moments, you haven’t even lived a particularly good life, no less a holy life dedicated to God’s use. Please remember the story of the Prodigal Son… What’s the first thing the waiting Father shouts out when his long-lost child returns? “Find the best robe and put it on him!” (Luke 15:22). We know what that robe is all about. It is a holy robe, it won’t wear out, it shows family origins in the Father’s house. It is the robe of Christ, of forgiveness and grace and new life. The Father’s robe is a sign of holiness that we all put on when we approach the Father in humility. His robe is a holy robe, and we are all invited to put it on and clothe ourselves in Christ.

Is a good life good enough? Perhaps it’s time to set yourself apart and become a saint. Be dedicated to the Master’s use, like a vessel of honor in the Lord’s well-stocked kitchen (2 Timothy 2:20-21). Perhaps it’s time to seek a holy life, a consecrated life, the life of the saint. Maybe being generically good isn’t good enough.

“All of us, if we only knew it, are on a hunt for the holy, for a life that cannot be reduced to the way we look or what we do or what others think of us. We are after something – more life than we get simply by eating three meals a day, getting a little exercise, and having a decent job. We’re after the God-originated and God-shaped life – a holy life.” (Eugene Peterson, The Jesus Way).