Those who are redeemed in Christ are expected to lead lives of mercy, peace, integrity, justice and generosity. When in doubt, ask ‘What Would Jesus Do?’
by Paul Yeun
“Who are the saints? Do you know the answer, Charlie Brown?” Lucy asked.
“Be kind. Don’t smoke. Be prompt. Smile a lot. Eat sensibly…Eat a lot of vegetables and fruits and drink plenty of water. Avoid cavities, and mark your ballot carefully… Avoid too much sun. Send overseas packages early. Love all creatures above and below. Ensure your belongings, and try to keep the ball low,” Charlie rambled.
“Stop,” Lucy said, interrupting. “Hold real still, Charlie Brown, because I am going to hit you with a very sharp blow upon the nose!”
In considering the lives of the saints the Catholic Church consecrated, not all of them fit into the image Charlie Brown provided to Lucy as part of the beloved “Peanuts” canon. Historically, saints were people of action and conviction who followed Jesus and took his teaching seriously. In Protestant traditions, all believers of Jesus are called saints.
“Saints are people who dare to be so different that they become the living, visible presence of Christ in the world.”Paul Yeun
According to the Apostle Paul, every Christian qualifies as a saint. In his letter (I Corinthians 1:2) to the Christians in Corinth, Greece, he writes: “To all the church of God, which is at Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ, called to be saints.” As British theologian Alan Richardson reminds us, “The saint of the New Testament is not a perfected being but a forgiven sinner.” It sounds to me like he means all of the redeemed. Let’s give some thought to sainthood and determine what goes into the people being discussed.
They dare to be different. Saints are people who adhere to the teaching Jesus put forth in the Beatitudes. Blessed are the merciful. Blessed are the peacemakers. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness. Blessed are those who are persecuted for my name’s sake.
Saints seek to do the right things, and as a result, they may be rejected or looked down upon because of their faith and practices.
For a while, the bestselling item in religious bookstores was a simple nylon bracelet with the letters W.W.J.D. embroidered on the fabric. It means “What Would Jesus Do?” This is the question that rests constantly on the lips of all Christians when they are confronted with moral and ethical decisions. Saints are people who dare to be so different that they become the living, visible presence of Christ in the world. They also leave legacies. When they have finished their sojourns, the world will be a better place because of them.
So, who are the saints, and what does this have to do with you and me? Every follower of Jesus is called to sainthood. All Christians, all believers of Jesus, are considered saints, according to the Apostle Paul. We are called to lead merciful, peacemaking lives, lives of integrity and justice and generosity. We may not wear the bracelet, but it serves as our credo: “What would Jesus do?” We are called to leave the world a better place because we were there living out the answers.
Paul Yeun is the pastor of Covington Mill United Methodist Church. For information, visit www.covingtonmillumc.com.