“What It Means To Be A Saint”

For many people, tomorrow will "necessitate" wearing green. After all, not doing so on "Saint Patrick's Day" is not only "bad luck" but also makes one subject to getting pinched. But who was "Saint Patrick?" And, what does it mean to be a "Saint?" Consider the following important observations.

First, a little background is helpful. "Saint Patrick" was born in Great Britain and spent much of his life in Ireland in the 5th century,, spending most of his adult life as a Catholic bishop on the famous "Green Island." As one of the most famous and important religious leaders in Ireland, his identity and that of Ireland are now inextricably linked. The trappings of "Saint Patrick's Day" have numerous, though sometimes loose, connections with Patrick's life, mission, and teachings. As with other Catholic luminaries, Patrick is considered to be a "Saint," a title reserved (typically) for deceased men and women whose good deeds and efforts are noteworthy enough that the Catholic church (the Pope) deeming the person a "saint."

The problem with all of this is that the Bible uses the term "saint" in a dramatically different fashion. The term saint or saints is used some 30 times in the Old Testament and an additional 65 times in the New Testament. In using this term, inspired writers repeatedly refer to living men and women as saints and not only those who have been dead for hundreds of years. In short, in biblical times, God viewed saints as living, breathing men and women who had surrendered their lives to His service.

Furthermore, the notion that the Roman Catholic Church, the Pope, or other man-made institutions are the ones who have the right to call a person a saint is totally unfounded in scripture. Instead, just as God is the one who called us and adds us to His church, He is the one who calls us saints (Acts 2:47). To pick and choose who is and is not a saint is not only non-biblical, but it also makes it so that human beings are putting themselves in the place of God making decisions that He Himself has the right to make.

Finally, it's important to note that the world's view of saints is different than the Lord's (and thanks to be to God for that!) In fact, many times the term "saint" is used to convey the notion that a person is "perfect." One might say, "She's a saint," meaning that she's just so incredible, so kind, and "so-almost perfect." But note this fact. When Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome, Corinth, Ephesus, Philippi, and Colosse, was he writing to perfect people? A quick review of Paul's letters reminds us that they were anything but perfect! Yet, Paul called all of these believers "saints." This matters A LOT to us. We are saints not because we are perfect, nor because some arbitrary, man-made denomination chose to call us saints, but because the perfect and loving Creator chose to call us saints. If nothing else, "Saint Patrick's Day" should remind us about the Bible really teaches and how truly fortunate we are!

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