Are You a Sinner or a Saint? Yes.
by Pr. Peter Braafladt
And you who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through death, so as to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him. – Col. 1.21-22
The first weekend of November is always celebrated as All Saints' Saturday/Sunday at Messiah. It is the weekend that we remember and give thanks for all the saints who have served Christ in word and deed and especially those who now rest in the Lord. We often begin the worship by singing the hymn with these memorable words, "For all the saints, who from their labors rest..."
For many people, identifying someone as a saint means that the one being identified was or is closer to God than the rest of us. This conclusion is indicated by all the service and dedication he or she has given to God. Saint Theresa fits into this category. I suspect we could all identify other persons who lived extraordinary lives of service to others in the name of Jesus.
But what about you? Are you a sinner or are you a saint?
all Christians are Saints.
We become Christians not because we draw close to God, but because God draws close to us. In baptism, our Lord washes us, cleanses us from sin and claims us as his own. God makes us holy. The word "saint" literally means "holy one." We are all saints.
Of course, some of the saints exhibit more maturity in Christ than others do. They pray on a daily basis, support the work of the church, study God's Word, and seek to serve others in amazing ways. But they also daily fail to follow the Lord completely—and yes, this even includes Mother Theresa of Calcutta.
all Christians are Sinners.
Christ has made us holy, but we still sin. The Apostle Paul wrote, "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) The Apostle John put it another way. "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." (1 John 1:8) In this life, it is a daily call to live into our baptism by working to kill the sinner-self and letting the saint in us shine through. To the extent that we are successful, we are growing in grace. But none of us succeed perfectly. Only God can bring about perfection.
So on All Saints' weekend:
we celebrate the lives of the Saints who have died before us.
These alone are the people who are no longer both sinner and saint. They are now completely holy, perfect. The old sinner in them is completely dead. We give thanks to God for their lives and examples of faith, for the ways they shared their faith with their families, friends, and neighbors, for the ways they nourished and inspired our own trust in Christ.
we celebrate the lives of Saints who still live.
That's you and me. On All Saints' Weekend, we also give thanks to God for all the people he has made his own. It's your day. God has drawn near to you and claimed you as his own. You can truthfully tell your friends and family that you are a living saint because of what God has done for you in Christ.