Reading: started reading Philippians one chapter 1 ..stopped at verse 1
We have in our family what is called Mazey code. It is the Mazey way of doing things. You can only be a Mazey kid if you belong to our family. Being a Mazey requires certain values and ethics and responsibilities but there are Mazey privileges that come with being part of our family. As a family we often say ‘Mazeys don’t act like that ‘ or ‘Don’t forget you are a Mazey’ There are times when my kids will act like other kids and forget who they belong to and we simply need to remind them that being a Mazey comes with the Mazey way. We have Mazey slogans, Mazey language, Mazey culture, mazey food, Mazey traditions, mazey rituals. When Paul writes this letter and calls his readers Saints and Holy (which means set apart from the rest), he is giving them a reminder of their status of belonging. He writes to the ‘saints who belong to Jesus Christ’. There are times when the kids wish they were not Mazey’s ..and that can be like us..maybe if we refuse to be saints then we won’t be accountable for what is expected of us as saints.
When I have just finished yelling at the kids, cracked the sads at my husband and rubbed the dog’s face in his mess, and eaten myself through a jar of Nutella or when I have spent a week whinging and complaining and grumbling to all my friends or had a massive vent to the entire world about how terrible my life is because I still have no splash back in my kitchen, even thought I have food in my fridge and shoes on my feet), when I am consumed with a family saga or overwhelmed with the number of bills sitting on my bench, when I feel overwhelmed with my prison walls and gripe to anyone who will listen about how hard my life is? When I take to Facebook to make sure my significant current, moment of inadequacy is getting the better of me…sainthood doesn’t feel right It just doesn’t feel like it is a good fit for me. When all I see is prison walls and my lack of worth??Paul addresses me as a saint? When I hear Paul call me a saint it brings out the most bizarre responses…pride..in how wonderful I have been or am or shame because it makes me see my imperfections and worth based on what I have or haven’t done. I can write a list a mile long on why saint doesn’t look good on me….and the accuser has a great time accusing me of my NON- saint status. When I believe what God says about me: that that I am a saint because I belong to him..it makes me want to live by the ‘heavenly code. Just like the Mazey code works for our family: The code of heaven provides a benchmark for living the God-life. It is a benchmark or the saints that belong to him. The name saint speaks about our identity and helps challenge our conduct to help us identify ourselves with the family we belong to.
I have this religious side that likes to compare my sainthood with others. This word saint has the ability to bring me up to size but also down to size. Sainthood is not dependant on how I feel…it is a calling, an identity.
But before he calls them saints ..he identifies Timothy and himself as servants.. what a refreshing view of leadership. His humility shines from the outset of the letter. he is not writing as a big shot evangelist and travelling preacher…he is writing as a servant of Christ….huge lesson right there. My role as a nurturer is to serve Jesus and serve those in my care. I am hot shot that deserves some special service from those I am nurturing . I am there to serve them!!! the contrast between writer and reader is servant and saint. Paul honours his readers in both his own identity and theirs. I find it interesting that in other letters Paul writes he uses his apostleship in his opening lines but in this one he doesn’t. There are times when I may need to use my authority.
How often do we use our authority as parents when we should be using our role as servant! As a nurture my role is servant not hot shot! My role as pastor is servant not big wig! my role in any form is servant not victim, not needy, not control freak, not grump, not platform hungry and noticed..but SERVANT
Our craving to be a somebody and a big shot is often the cause discontent..and that form of discontent can be destructive not only to ourselves and our calling but to everyone around us!!! how many times have I pulled rank because I need y kids to see my authority instead of seeing my role as servant (not doormat) but servant!
Remembering that I am both servant and saint is humbling and helps crush the pride, shame and discontent. remembering who I am in Christ helps deal with the stuff that separates me from Christ! It forces me to remember my status of belonging and my status of calling. Who am I serving and who am I living for..JESUS!! It deals with my selfish ambition, it deals with my own agenda, it deals with my need to feel heard, it deals with discontentment at the core. discontentment is subtle and sly, deceptive and massively destructive. Jesus has restored our image and we once again have what we so desperately yearn for. We already are a somebody because of who we belong to and who made us. Unless we are being noticed; unless we feel heard or important we feel frustrated and that discontent is what leads us towards sin. Our need to be in control conflicts with our servant identity and our vulnerability to being controlled conflicts with our identity of saint.
Paul’s use of his own identity as a servant helps me see that contentment comes in my role as a servant of Christ and in honouring others. I am not a servant of others. I serve others because my master is Jesus. If my master is people then I become a servant to their demands and their needs but if I serve people but am a servant to Jesus then I won’t be intimidated and manipulated by people. I am not the master but neither are those I serve. In what ever role I play where leadership and influence plays a part…I am always first and foremost a servant.
Paul calls his readers SAINTS…
What is my reaction to this title Saint that he gives his readers? I find I react to it. Because of our own preconceived ideas of holiness and sainthood. Being a saint is not based on a list of prerequisites of perfection and even death. It is a declaration of who we are in Christ. We are called Holy and saints because of whose we are not what we do. Our identiy is about ownership.
I love that Paul tells me from the outset of this letter. ‘Hey Saint Jenny’. Everything I write to you today is with the understanding that you are a saint and you belong to Jesus. This is hard to accept and should draw me close to God..but it also does something else. As soon as I read those words…I ignore them,… I pretend they are not important or irrelevant. if I spend too much time thinking about being called a saint it causes doubt to set in. Is this written to me? Does this apply to me. I don’t accept my status and identity as Saint Jenny even though it’s the word of God. If I ignore it then I lose context for some of the things Paul is writing? maybe that is how I like it. . maybe by denying my sainthood I have some excuse for not living as one. My mind and heart find it hard to accept my sainthood.
Soul..mull on your status of sainthood today. Don’t forget to remember who you are: Saint AND servant!
Saint Jennifer looks good on me!! but mostly when I am serving!
Why do I struggle with being called a saint?
How does being a saint change how I view myself?
how does being a saint help me view other Christians or even non Christians.
Soul you are a saint because you belong …to God. Rest in that identity today. Do not sway from it. You are free to be a saint. There is nothing powerful enough to remove this identity because it is the mark of Christ in you and his perfection that makes you a saint. It is not saint today and gone tomorrow. So when I am yelling at my kids and my words have been ugly and harsh???this word saint from Christ draws me to repentance but from the enemy ???pushes me away. There is no condemnation in Christ means I have the right to come and seek forgiveness.
Mark Driscol, teaches on this subject of sainthood really well. Check out his teaching here