Tuesday, November, 6, 2018 | 2:56 PM | by Munholland
All Saints Day is a celebration of those who followed God and passed on the faith. From Abraham who left his country, his people, and his idols, to Billy Graham who proclaimed the gospel to millions, there are plenty of people who deserve the moniker of saint. However, saints aren’t just those who have fallen asleep, but all those who follow Jesus today.
In I Cor 1:2, Paul addresses the letter “to the church in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” While the Corinthian church had many problems, they were set aside to fulfill God’s good purposes in Corinth. The same is true in our own lives here in Metairie. Sometimes we live out God’s call well and sometimes not. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that we are the saints of God, set apart to share life that is truly life with a hurting world.
For some Christians, following God takes more courage and can be very hard. Awhile ago I went to Vietnam and Cambodia to visit some churches and orphanages with a ministry that our church had supported. We met a Vietnamese pastor who had been thrown in prison for five years for sharing the gospel in that communist country. The first thing he did when they released him was put a cross, a symbol of the hope of Jesus, over the door of his old church and start up services again! A week or so later a local communist leader told him that if the pastor removed the cross from over the door, he would overlook the pastor’s work. If the pastor did not remove the cross, he would be thrown back in jail. With a big smile on his face, the pastor leaned into us and said, “I will never take down that cross!” What a saint! He knew God had a high calling for him and he would not shirk from fulfilling it, despite threats and persecution. I could tell you many other stories like that from pastors in those two countries.
The writer of Hebrews encourages us to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” (Heb 12:1-2) The pastors in Cambodia and Vietnam were running a hard race. However, we have our own race to run. While we don’t face the level of persecution that they did, we often face hostility and pushback from individuals and our culture. Sometimes we shrink back from sharing what Christ can do for someone because we are nervous that they will become angry or annoyed. This is a good time to consider our brothers and sisters who face strong persecution, and stiffen our backs and our minds and resolve to run the race marked out for us. We run the race because the world needs God’s forgiveness, healing, direction, and strength.
In a time of shootings, bombings, anger, and hatred, the world needs the peace and power of Jesus more than ever. We are the saints that God has called to bring the good news of Jesus to the world. There is no Plan B. God has marked out a race for you and for me. Our race takes us through Metairie and New Orleans, to family, neighbors, colleagues, students, and friends. The saints who have gone on before have passed the baton to us. Will you take up the baton and run the race marked out for you? Let’s fix our eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith. There is work for us to do!