For many of us, when we hear the word “saints” we think of those figures of long ago who lived memorable lives for God, accomplished great things, were mighty prayer warriors, and people of great faith. We usually see these saints in pictures in old books or paintings on walls. Usually, in these pictures, they have a glow around them or even a halo over their heads.
In reality, a saint is anyone who has said yes to Christ Jesus and seeks to follow him. The word saint originates from the Greek word meaning “holy” or “set apart.” The New Testament uses the word saint or saints 67 times. In every instance, the reference is to all believers. Never is the word used of a special group of believers who serve God better than others. Scripture is clear that all Christians are saints.
For almost 30 years as a pastor of a local church, I have encountered living saints among the body of the church. I’ve seen these saints share and sacrifice themselves in so many wonderful ways. I’ve seen them change dirty diapers in the nursery, add numbers in the teller’s room, clean pots in the kitchen, hand out bulletins in the sanctuary, serve meals to the homeless, and write notes and cards to homebound members. These individuals have shown me what authentic Christian love looks like. They have also demonstrated to me the kind of humility that Jesus called us to have.
These saints also live knowing that God is not finished with them yet. A true saint always knows there is room to grow more into Christ-likeness every day. As someone once said, “saints are not born, they are made along the way.” Becoming a saint is not an overnight experience. It takes sacrifice, dedication, and living in faith, even in the most difficult times of life. The saints I have met along the way have faced adversity, sorrow, pain, and suffering, but continued to trust in God. Through it all, they continue to radiate a joy that has inspired me in my Christian walk.
The saints of God don’t simply walk the golden streets of heaven, but they can walk in and out of our lives every day. They have something to teach us that they have learned along the way. I am a better follower of Christ because of such individuals. Even though some of these earthly saints have joined the congregation of heaven, I think of them every day and I give thanks to God for their continued presence in my life. When the saints go marching in, I want to be a part of that number. These saints are special people and I cherish every moment with them.
Let us give thanks to God for the saints in our lives. May we listen, watch, and learn from them as they follow Jesus in their own lives. Then let us realize that people are looking at us as we follow Jesus. May we be a saint for them and pass on the loving glow that has been shared with us. As Paul said, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God.” (Ephesians 2:19)