The Saints and Angels in our lives
Discussion thought of the day:
Recently a number of people I know have passed away. All of them, in simple yet very profound ways, people of great faith.
As I listen to people talk about them, they were described with terms like “saint” or “angel”. People were in awe of the lives they lived, the strength they appeared to have, the way in which they were able to stick to their convictions regarding right and wrong. Such people are an obvious blessing in our lives. But as I have heard people talk of them, the awe also seems to contain an idea, which each of them would find… troubling.
The idea that what made them special could not be duplicated or emulated, that they were so far “beyond” us. That how they lived is impossible for us mere mortals, whose sainthood is suspect, whose halos are bent and a bit corroded. We know they were special, and I think we, for some reason, have put them on a pedastel that they would find… uncomfortable, and it would bother them, and indeed, we would go – “see – proof of their holiness”. In knowing a couple of them, as only a pastor can, I think if they had a moment, they would refer those people to two passages. The first, from St. Paul, would talk about the reason God chose to work in their lives:
1:14 And our Lord poured out his abundant grace on me and gave me the faith and love which are ours in union with Christ Jesus. 15 This is a true saying, to be completely accepted and believed: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. I am the worst of them, 16 but God was merciful to me in order that Christ Jesus might show his full patience in dealing with me, the worst of sinners, as an example for all those who would later believe in him and receive eternal life. 17 To the eternal King, immortal and invisible, the only God—to him be honor and glory forever and ever! Amen.
1 Timothy 1:14-17 (TEV)
You see, saints, and angels serve a purpose far different than we think they do. It’s not that they are so far beyond us, but that they demonstrate the effect of God’s love, something they trust in more than life itself. (see Rev. 12:11) The reason for their holiness is simply their trust in God’s work accomplishing it, a spirit that says like Mary, “may it be done to me according to your word”. (and even that acceptance is something generated in all of us by the work of the Holy Spirit!) It is not that they are more special, and they know it, indeed – put them in a room with Paul, and perhaps an argument would break out about who is the chief of all sinners. But they would all agree – that in saving them, in sanctifying them, God was showing what He could do, is doing in the rest of us. (or as I occasionally say…. if God can save a (insert colorful phrase) like me – the rest of you are a piece of cake!) But each of these people, each childlike in their joy and faith in God – oh – how they would desire that each of you know that how God walked with them on their journey, He will walk with you – and often – they believe in ways much more incredible.
That’s where the other quote comes in…
10:31 So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32 Don’t give offense to Jews or Gentiles or the church of God. 33 I, too, try to please everyone in everything I do. I don’t just do what is best for me; I do what is best for others so that many may be saved. 11:1 And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.
1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1 (NLT)
I would draw your eyes to that italicized part first – Whether it be any of my friends who are now with God, or St Francis, or St Paul, there is humble sense that says, yes – imitate me, copy my journey – its okay to think I am a saint, as long as you make that journey walking besides God as well. Their desire to reflect God’s image in their lives, despite their propensity to sin, is what we witnessed, and seeing their actions and attitudes that were born in their relationship where they were united with Jesus, yes – know that God would have you imitate them, show the love they had for you and those around you. FOr the strength and saintliness that you witnessed was not any more natural to them, than it is to you.
But I would also have you notice the context again – of both passages – there is a sense that their work, their words, what God gave them to do and the workmanship with which He shaped them (and now us) results in others (including us) being saved, in others (including us) realizing that God can and does work in our lives. Gotta end this one with something that testifies of that work.
2:8 Because it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith; not by anything of your own, but by a gift from God; 9 not by anything that you have done, so that nobody can claim the credit. 10 We are God’s work of art, created in Christ Jesus for the good works which God has already designated to make up our way of life.
Ephesians 2:8-10 (NJB)
We have been blessed to witness lives where it is obvious that God’s mercy was at work, for those lives are “works of art”. May we imitate them as we trust in God, as they, trusting in God, imitated Christ.
Posted on August 18, 2012, in Devotions and tagged angels, example, God, great faith, Holiness, Imitate me, Jesus, love, saints, saints and angels, spirituality, work of art. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.