In October of last year, Pope Francis declared 30 people who died in Brazil in 1645 to be saints. They were canonized at a Sunday mass in St. Peter's Square in Rome, In the Catholic church, sainthood requires a complicated, three-step process that normally takes decades – or in this case, centuries.
How about you? Ready to be a saint? According to an older, Biblical approach to sainthood, however, you could be today! Yes, you! No kidding!
Being a saint is not a matter of being better than others. One man, fearing that the minister would tell the truth at his evil brothers’ funeral, privately handed the minister a large check.
"I have only one condition," he said. "At his funeral, you must say my brother was a saint." After some hesitation, the preacher gave his word and deposited the check.
At the funeral, the preacher declared, "He was an evil man. He cheated on his wife and abused his family." After continuing in that vein, the preacher kept his word by concluding: "But, compared to his brother, he was a saint."
To be a saint in the Biblical sense also does not mean that one has led a sinless life. In the apostle Paul’s first letter to the Christian church in Corinth, you will notice that he calls them “saints” (6:1) and “sanctified” (a different form of the same word - 1:2), though they certainly were not without some embarrassing events in their past.
Their membership included those who had been sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, thieves, greedy, drunk, slanderers, and swindlers. But, they were all saints!
Sainthood was granted to them. “But you were washed,” Paul reminds them. “You were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11).
Here’s good news: if those people could be sanctified (made saints), then anyone can be. Anyone who believes in Jesus Christ and is washed (baptized), is sanctified by God – made a saint, not by his own goodness, but by that of Jesus.
We don’t qualify ourselves to be saints. God does that. We just accept it on his terms. Then, we enjoy the benefits – the inheritance of life that lasts forever.
So, how are you coming with your sainthood? If you’ve got it, thank God for it. Live up to it. If you don’t have it, what are you waiting for?