/snicker – this one always makes me chuckle. As it is, Nathan’s in bed, sleeping. I’m…well, I’m at the computer. 😉
“But…but…if someone’s wrong, shouldn’t we try to correct them?”
Maybe. Maybe not. I think it depends on what we’re talking about.
I mean…I don’t know that I’m going to try to correct someone who thinks Elvis, Marilyn, JFK and Hoffa are all still alive and well, sharing a condo on the moon. It doesn’t have any practical spillover into…well, reality.
But…if it’s a spiritual thing (not a hair-splitting, nitpicky kind of deal) that actually could make a difference in someone’s life, I would hope that I would do this:
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” (2 Tim. 2:15, NIV)
(Where “correctly handles the word of truth” equals looking at the whole counsel of the Bible and not just one or two out-of-context verses.)
“So…what is it that brought this up?” I’m so glad that you, my dear reader, are going to let me pretend to put words in your mouth. 😉
Someone posted this on Facebook this evening.
“christians are sinners (like we all are) who have been saved by the grace of God through Jesus”
I see where she’s coming from. I appreciate her heart and her desire to evangelize and show that Christians are real people who still mess up. What concerned me was the wording, so I responded.
“We were born sinners. We were reborn saints. When Paul addressed his epistles, he never once said ‘to the sinners’ of a particular church. He wrote ‘to the saints.’ Thank God for his grace and his compassion! :)”
I think it’s an important delineation. If we continue to think of ourselves as we did BC (before Christ), then we’ll continue to behave in destructive patterns. If we view ourselves the way that God now sees us: saints, sons, ministers of reconciliation, etc., then we will see that the bar, the standard of behavior by which we gauge ourselves, has gone up. We will conduct ourselves differently.
“So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:16b-21, NIV, emphasis mine)
If you claim Christ, but you are having sex with someone you are not married to…you will not inherit the kingdom of God. If you claim Christ and you go out and get drunk*/high all the time, you will not inherit the kingdom of God. If you claim to be a Christian, yet you gossip about the church/pastor across the street while trying to draw people to your church, you’d better go check your medication.
If you are behaving in ways that are contrary to God’s laws of love, operating in the sinful nature, yet you claim Christ as your savior, fix it. Either repent and make your heart/life right with God or stop claiming to be a Christ-follower when you’re not.
“1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.” (Romans 12:1-3, NIV, emphasis mine)
“offer your bodies as living sacrifices” – he didn’t say that it would always be easy. It won’t. I guaran-dog-tee that it won’t always be easy. What it will be is worth it. Following God is always, always, always worth the cost.
hehe…now, after an extended rabbit trail, is a brief (i.e. “non-exhaustive” — I do need to go to bed tonight! hehe) listing of Paul’s references to the saints:
Many thanks to BibleGateway.com for being an awesome resource!
- To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 1:7)
- And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will. (Romans 8:27)
- For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. (Romans 15:26)
- Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas and all the saints with them. (Romans 16:15)
- Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God in Corinth, together with all the saints throughout Achaia: (2 Cor. 1:1)
- All the saints send their greetings. (2 Cor. 13:13)
- Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:1)
- Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons (Philippians 1:1)
- Greet all the saints in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me send greetings. All the saints send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household.
(Philippians 4:21, 22)
Understand, then, that saints are not dead people with big yellow circle halos in a goofy religious painting. They’re not statues in a Catholic church before which we light candles. They’re people. They are us. If you are a Christ-follower, you are a saint. If you are a Christ-follower, then when you die, should Jesus have not returned yet, you will join the other saints in what the writer of Hebrews referred to as the “great cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1, NIV).
With that great destiny in mind, let us look up toward God and not down in shame. Let us gaze forward to the finish and not poke along near the beginning. Yes, we were born sinners. But, we were reborn as saints. Let us, by God’s grace, live up to this high and holy calling today.
May God bless you as you pursue Him this week! As always, thanks for reading,
* Note: Drunk does not mean a drink here or there or even one a day. The Bible does not condemn drinking. The Christian folks who founded this country enjoyed drinking. They understood that having a drink is different from “falling down drunk.”