2 Corinthians 1.1 — Oh we’re saints, are we?

public-domain-anselm-pDon’t let the word “saints” throw you. It’s not what you may think, as the picture to the right suggests. It doesn’t imply that anyone is better than anybody else. It just means that person is set aside for a singular, devoted purpose. When I had to run an electric line to the above-ground pool in the back yard, it had to be a dedicated line. That meant that nothing else in the house was on that circuit, and that circuit wasn’t to be used for anything else. That line was for the pool and the pool alone. That’s the idea behind “saints.” Saints are people that live for God and for God alone. They’re still human; they still make mistakes as other people do, and they still have their share of human weaknesses and human problems. But a saint is a person who is consecrated to God.

Hunt_pitcher,_500-600_CE,_silver,_Sasanian,_Iran,_Cleveland_Museum_of_ArtFor the Temple, a craftsman would make a pitcher that was no different from any other pitcher. But since that pitcher was going to be used in the Temple, it was consecrated so now it was to be used ONLY in the temple. You couldn’t use it just to fetch water from the creek to cook supper on. Sure, it was the same as the pitcher you used for that purpose, but this pitcher was consecrated, or sanctified, so it was only used for one purpose now.

Believers aren’t saints because they’ve earned a special place in God’s heart, or because they’ve been particularly good, or done especially fantastic things for other people. This text tells us that a Christian is a saint by position. It’s our nature now, just like the pitcher in the temple. We’re set apart for God’s use and God’s work. God’s grace came and found us when we were lost, brought us in the family, made us heirs of the empire, and sealed us to make sure it would last forever. We didn’t do anything to earn or deserve that. It’s a gift. It doesn’t mean I’m better than anybody else, and certainly not that I’m holy. Oh my. Well, I’m holy in the sense that I’m set apart (I’m a saint, after all!), but I’m not holy in the sense that I’m perfect. Nobody’s perfect except Jesus.

But that doesn’t mean I’m a slacker, either. Now that I’m set apart I am supposed to be a good person. I am supposed to look out for others, take care of the poor, and be moral. I am supposed to live out love, peace, patience, goodness, justice, self-control, and lots of other virtues. In that sense I’m supposed to live out my consecration. Since I’ve been set apart, I’m supposed to live so that it shows.

This is all important, because later in the book Paul is going to tell us how hard life is, and how many problems are heading our way, and that suffering may be a common experience for us. But he wants us to know that we belong to God and are living for his purposes, and we’re not to think something is desperately wrong when life doesn’t go smoothly for us.

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