Pope Francis and the Saints

You may have seen the tweet by Pope Francis Sunday. It had to do with saints in the Catholic church but Twitter helped change the meaning for many people. When Pope Francis used the word “saints,” Twitter added a # and a Fleur de Lis emoji which gave a completely new meaning. Many Saints fans in Louisiana saw it as an omen or at least smile-provoking.

It made me think how the word saints has moved so far from its biblical meaning, a meaning of profound significance.

We now think of “Saints” as a very good football team. When we think of “When the Saints Go Marching In,” we also think of a football. Even when Pope Francis mentions “saints,” many people think of football.

Pope Francis mentioned “saints” in the past tense, someone who lived in the past.

In the Bible, “saints” describes followers of Jesus Christ who belong to Him and who seek to serve Him. It’s not past tense at all. It is very much today, right now.

For example, in Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, he encouraged us to pray for all the saints. He was not referring to previous believers but to real life believers now who seek to live for Christ in a pagan environment. When Paul wrote to the church at Colossae, he made this declaration: “We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love which you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven” (Colossians 1:3-5a).

Notice that “saints” are those people who have hope (confident expectation) of their eternal home in Christ Jesus. They are those people who have been set apart for God’s service and who love and long for His coming. In other words, these are modern day believers who seek to honor God with their lives.

In the Bible, “saints” are real life people seeking to live their lives for God. “Saints” is the one of the most common words to describe a follower of Christ.

It describes a person set apart for God.

That is who you and I are and what we are called to be.

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