Today is traditionally called All Saint's Day. It is also known as Reformation Sunday. The former observation remembers all those who have gone on to their eternal glory while the latter remembers when Martin Luther, in protest, nailed 95 theses on the church door at Wittenburg.
In the United Methodist Church, we count Reformation Day as a marker in the history of Protestantism. As for All Saint's Day, we recognize saints who have gone onto glory but also saints who are currently serving Christ around the globe. From the UM Church perspective, one does not need to be dead to qualify for sainthood. Many in congregations I have served get a bit uncomfortable when I call them saints. They say such things as:
"Oh pastor, I am not a saint. I have never done anything great to be called a saint. Saints are those
who have died doing some great thing in service to the kingdom."
In part, they are correct. Our identity as saints has nothing to do with us or anything we have done. Our identity as a saint is always based upon the person of Jesus Christ. He makes our living sainthood possible. We take on a new life through Christ as described in Galatians:
"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I
live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of
God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”
(Galatians 2:20-21, NIV)
Many followers of Jesus feel unworthy to be called a saint. They might even feel as though they need to work tirelessly to achieve sainthood. Look at the last part of the Galatians text again, "for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” It's all about Jesus!
A word search in my Bible software produced upwards of 68 instances of 'saints' passages and the majority of these texts reveal living followers of Jesus.
"As Peter traveled about the country, he went to visit the saints in Lydda." (Acts 9:32, NIV)
"Now, however, I am on my way to Jerusalem in the service of the saints there. For Macedonia and
Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem."
(Romans 15:25-26, NIV)
"If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of
before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the
world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases?" (1 Corinthians 6:1-2, NIV)
Claiming our identity as saints of the living God is an important part of the responsibility we have when we identify as Christians. It always means something much more than claiming an eternal ticket to heaven. It illustrates our need to serve God and love people. Saints roll up their sleeves and work in the streets of their city, Saints give their money sacrificially to support their church that feeds the hungry and cloth the naked. Saints appear in worship regularly and praise Jesus Christ. Saints bend to pray on behalf of the broken world and saints share their testimony of conversion so the whole world may know Him. If you have said yes to Jesus Christ, "You are a saint. There is no question about it."
Enjoy your "saintedness" today and thank Jesus for making it so.