Sunday, June 09, 2013

Called to Be Saints

Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ; To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 01:05-07, NKJV).

Here is that word “called” again, but instead of “called of”, we are “called to be”, which is a significant difference.

Previously, we understood something of what it means to be “the called of Jesus Christ”, recipients of the most important invitation in the Universe, but our “calling” is not to be passive, meaning we do not just respond to the invitation and then do nothing. Responding to the invitation is meant to change us in the very core of our being – it is the first step in our transformation, or what the Bible terms, our “sanctification”.

In olden times, but after the 1st century, it was widely thought that “saints” were a particular rank of believers, like a general in the military, or someone who had run a race and come in first. But that is not what the Apostle Paul meant here.

Instead, when he used the word translated as saints, hagios (hag'-ee-os), he was writing about something that was literally “awful”, meaning someone that inspired awe in others – someone so committed to holiness that we become demonstrably different from who we were before.

For crusty old repentant sinners (like your father), this demonstrable (very obvious) difference from what he was before becoming a believer is easier to see, like from having long hair to going bald. In fact, the more drastic the initial transformation, the easier to see.

But for those who come to Christ early in life, like young children who are taught from childhood the holy scriptures, the transformation, while no less profound, is often far less obvious. Yet, in a very real sense, it is even more beautiful and pure, since it takes what was at least temporarily sweet and innocent, and confirms and solidifies and refines it like the purest gold.

Us latecomers have all the dents and scratches and scars and wounds of a long sinful life, but the young who respond to the call of Christ and become His saints, are that much less damaged by years of selfishness and the pursuit of sin.

That is why the Lord commands us parents that:

You shall teach them [the things and words of God] diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. (Deuteronomy 6:7, NKJV).


...that from childhood you [know] the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 3:15, NKJV).

As responding to the call of Christ has impact for all eternity, so too does the natural outworking of that call to be saints.

It is not just for ourselves that this is His desire for us, but for all those around us. Therefore we are to:

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:16, NKJV).

In contrast to His good desire for us to be like Him, holy and awesome (in the literal sense), the world desires exactly the opposite. It wants you to believe that becoming like Christ – becoming one of His saints – is boring and old-fashioned and uncool, but that is not the way it is at all.

Becoming holy - exercising the God-given power to resist sin and allow Him to transform us into the image of His Son, Jesus - is the most noble, praiseworthy, and exciting endeavor that a human being can undertake.

In truth, it is an heroic undertaking, the model and epitome (highest form) of heroism that can be conceived. It is the archetype (the original, most ancient form) of nobility and heroism.

So then, we are called to be heroes of righteousness – pure, honest, loving, gracious, forgiving, merciful, and grateful followers and servants of our Lord and Savior.