The word “hagios” which we translate as “saint” and means holy; a likeness in nature with the Lord set apart (or different), can be found 68 times in the New Testament. For example, when Ananias hears God wanting him to go and find the newly converted Paul he says, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints in Jerusalem.” Acts 9:13
Now the saints that Ananias talks about are the believers, the church! I think Scripture would rather us remember all the believers who have lived out their faith day by day over so many generations.
Because that seems to be the way Scripture talks of saints, in the plural and meaning the church, those called to follow a different way than that of the prevailing culture, be holy… Paul summed up so eloquently.
“To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours” 1 Corinthians 1: 2
Called to be saints – that’s what the church’s calling is. That’s what our calling is. It might seem a big ask, something you’ve never thought about in that sense before, but is it so much of a big ask?
How do the Beatitudes help us understand sainthood! For sure, the Beatitudes are not ideas that Jesus has just thought up. How the text is written suggest that they are the essential tenets that Jesus shares with his disciples. The Beatitudes are examples of what God encourages real people to become-also people that the disciples might actually recognize from his descriptions-the first saints of the church most of whose names we will never know and never be able to designate a day to remember.
When God created us male and female in his image, we became God’s image bearers or carriers through the kind of life that we live and the desires that we express.
When we study the Beatitudes, they provide us a glimpse into the mind of Jesus, as well as, gives the church its job description and mission. It also strongly suggests to us what every Christian should aspire to become. Thus, it gives us an idea of what Jesus hopes his followers will be and see in others. The saints Jesus seeks learn that happiness ultimately cannot be found through the possession of things, but in knowing and putting trust and faith in God. It’s having nothing and having everything at the same time, however bizarre that might sound. The way of the saint should be one of meekness; which is not weakness but as Aristotle defined it a happy medium between getting angry at the right time and not getting angry at the right time- being in control of our emotions.
The way of the saint is that of showing mercy, which in this context means getting inside the mind of the other person and seeing the situation from their point of view.
The way of the saint is to live lives that are God-centered rather than self-centered, lives that in being blessed and become a blessing to others. The Jewish greeting shalom means that the greeter wishes the one they are greeting peace, prosperity and wholeness-nothing but the best!
The way of the saint is always to speak out where there is injustice in the world-to hunger after justice. This is desire with passion which causes conflict with the world, and as saints we need to be willing to suffer persecution for the sake of others.
Remember, the Beatitudes are not a rule book. They are a reassurance from Christ for us to inspire others. They also encourage us to see these qualities in others. The Beatitudes help us all to seek and abide by some of them. Let’s not get too ambitious at the start! We are part of the body of Christ here and now.
According to scripture we have therefore responded to the call to be different, to be image-bearers of God in our words and actions-to become the saints that we read about earlier.
May the saints of Trinity Presbyterian Church express the grace and love of Christ and become God’s shalom to all others.