Summary: The challenge of sainthood

Why aren’t you a saint?

Story In a small country village in Sicily, there were two brothers, renowned members of the local Mafia.

They were mean, bad and very rich.

No one had a good word to say about them. Indeed, everyone seemed to have a story about how they had either been cheated or maligned by the brothers.

One day, one of the brothers, Giovanni died.

The surviving brother, Luigi - with a rare touch of conscience felt that something nice should be said about his brother Giovanni at the funeral.

So he went to the local vicar and said:

I know that folk in the village hate us, you don’t know the half of what we have been up to. However, I want you to say something nice about at his funeral.

I want you to say that Giovanni was a saint when you preach at his funeral.

If you agree to do that, ‘ll show my gratitude by giving 100,000 Euros towards the repair of the church. And here’s the cheque for the amount.

If you don’t, youll be in big trouble with me!

The vicar thought about it for a minute, agreed and cashed the cheque for 100 thousand Euro.

Word soon got out about the deal. And a week later, the whole village turned out for the funeral, because everyone wondered what the vicar would say.

After the opening hymns had been sung and the readings had been read, the vicar climbed up into the pulpit and delivered his sermon.

Eyeing Luigi, sitting in the front row, the

vicar said how evil the pair of them had been.

He went on to say how Giovanni had cheated, not only in business but on his wife, how he had lied and how had had no concern for anyone but himself.

In fact he went on to say what a downright scoundrel Giovanni had been.

After ten minutes of preaching in this vein, the vicar, being a man of his word, ended his sermon by simply saying

"But compared to his brother, Luigi - Giovanni was a saint.

Have you ever thought what the term “saint” means?

Did you realise that St. Paul uses the term “saint” a lot in his letters. For example in Romans 1:7 we read:

“To all who in Rome, who are loved by God and called to be saints, Grace and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.”

What did he mean by the term “Saint?”

Imagine, if you would, that St. Paul the apostle had addressed one of his epistles to you.

Imagine that, instead of writing to the Romans, he had written to Dymchurch (Old Romney/Ivychurch ).

“Dymchurchians”( Romneyans /Ivychurchians ) 1:7 would have read

“To all who in Dymchurch (Old Romney Ivychurch) , who are loved by God and called to be saints,

Grace and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.”

So what is a saint?

Well, the term “saint” has a number of meanings.

1. Someone who is long suffering is called a saint. I am sure you have heard the expression; “She was a saint to put up with him so long. “

2. Others see it as the church’s Victoria Cross – for people who have done something special. St Thomas a Beckett who was martyred for his faith.

3. But Saint is a biblical term. The Oxford

Illustrated Dictionary gives the biblical

definition of the term “saint” as being

One of God’s chosen people,

A member of the Christian church.

A saint is someone who is a Christian.

The etymology of the word “Saint” derives from the word “sanctified” – that is set apart for God.

This morning’s epistle reading from Romans 6 goes to the heart of Christian living.

St Paul writes: “ do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires”.

What is the effect of sin in our lives.

St Paul in our epistle reading answers it directly and contrasts it with God’s gift to us.

Paul writes:

23For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 6:23)

The Christian message is not simply about becoming a Christian. Or put in more theological terms – it is not simply about salvation – though of course salvation is vitally important.

It is more. It is also about the process of sanctification. That is that we consecrate our lives to the will of God

And interestingly the word “sanctification” has the same derivation as the word “saint”.

In other words, we need to become more Christlike.

For sanctification speaks of our wills becoming conformed to the will of God

As Christians God calls us to live differently.

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