Today is All Saints Day, the day when we remember all who have faithfully loved and served the Lord over the ages. It is a pointed celebration, because we are meant to take our place with them as well.
In the biblical sense of the word, a saint is a “holy one”. Holiness is not a reference to behavior that is so out of the ordinary that it is either unattainable or undesirable. The idea behind it is the idea of being set apart for a sacred purpose. What is meant to set us apart is God’s call upon our lives; we have been “called out” to follow him.
Holiness, then, is lived out in ordinary, everyday life by ordinary, everyday people just like you and just like me. It is lived out when we answer God’s call in our lives and faithfully live in harmony with his purposes for us. Anyone who does this is, in the New Testament sense of the word, a “saint”
Hebrews 12:1-2 tells us how we can be faithful to God’s call upon us and live as saints.
First, we remember this isn’t something we do alone. We are surrounded by “a great cloud of witnesses”; vast numbers of people down through the ages who have stepped out in faith to boldly follow God’s call. They bear witness to God’s faithfulness to them, reminding us that God will be faithful to us as well. We can trust him as they did; He will not let us down or lead us astray.
Second, we remember we’re not perfect. Believe it or not, the saints weren’t perfect either. They had their flaws and so do we. You do. I do too.
So we take a good hard look at our lives, asking God to help us see all those things that hold us back or tie us down and so keep us from being fully faithful to Him. Then we cast these things off and run hard the race that is set before us, enjoying the perfect freedom in so doing that God alone can give.
And finally, we remember who is perfect: Jesus. We look to him not only for our example, but for the power to follow it. We look to Jesus as “the author and finisher of our faith”, the “pioneer and perfecter” of our faith that he surely is.