Sunday, November 1st was All Saint's Day. Preceded by Halloween -- the celebration of all things ghoulish and wicked -- the juxtaposition of these two holidays was quite pointed for me this year. A brief foray to the mall Saturday night showed an astounding number of goth witches and vampires -- more than usual -- leaving me wondering how many Christians chose to masquerade as satanists this year. Were those same black-clad candy gluttons in the pew with me the following Sabbath morning? And why do so many of us celebrate this pagan holiday?
I have been pondering for some time the question of sinners and saints. For the last year or so I have heard sermons stressing the reality that we are all sinful. Correct. Only Christ was without sin. Only His grace and mercy saves us and covers our sins. So why do I feel uncomfortable when a pastor proudly proclaims "Hey, I'm just as bad as you. You're a sinner and I'm a sinner. We are all sinners." Why do I get queasy instead of shouting amen?
Perhaps because it sounds like embracing sin and dwelling in the fleshly side of our natures. It's not the intention, I am sure. I'm positive these pastors mean to embrace the sinner not the sins. But in admitting our failings and our humanity -- in confessing the "Old Man" are we forgetting the "New Man?" Are we buying into satan's lie that the old sinful nature is still alive and kicking in the born-again new Christian? Salvation is not a costume we wear to church. It's not a mask to hide a sinner's face. Christianity is not a masquerade.
As born-again Christians our dead sinful-selves are past-tense. I used to be a sinner. Now I am a Christian.
As Christians we can call on the strength of God to help us resits temptations and keep us from sinful choices. It's not that we don't have the potential to sin. It's that we have the power to stop ourselves from sinning.
Like having brakes on a bicycle -- we don't have to careen wildly downhill. I used to be a sinner. Now, God helps me stop myself from sinning.
When we embrace our human sinfulness we run the risk of forgetting that we are saved from sin. We are called Saints. We have been born again into the power of Christ, the power of His forgiveness and mercy, and the power of His armor. His protection against temptations to sin is ours to call upon.
It's something we have to remind ourselves of every day. The sinner is dead: "For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him ...reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:7-8,11
Christians have no need to dress ourselves in the costumes of the sinner, the costumes of the undead. I used to be a sinner. But the sinner is dead and I am alive in Christ.
November 1st was our holiday.