November 5, 2016

Four Steps To Becoming A Saint (All Saints)

Who are the “saints”? The Apostle Paul seems to be talking about both living and recently deceased members of the Christian Community. When he speaks about “the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints...” (Ephesians 1.18); it is fairly clear that the “saints” are all those who have:
·         “Heard the word of truth” and “believed (1.13).
·         Have this “hope” to which we are all called.
·         Been given the “Spirit of wisdom and revelation” (1.17) and
·         Experienced -  “the eyes of your heart may be enlightened”.. (1.18) so that people will come to personally know God
·         Jesus is explaining how the Kingdom of God is expanding into the physical world as people move through these four steps

Step # 1: Seeing our poverty
The poor are those who lack something. They know they need something more.
This is contrasted with the “rich” who have material wealth and easily become so self-satisfied that they cease to look for something more.
  • Poor are different in that they have not escaped into the deceptions of false teachers and self-satisfied religion.
  • Poor have not been distracted by the false happiness of wealth, power and popularity.
  • Poor have overcome the paralysing temptation of pride.
  • Poor are more likely to see their poverty, have their spiritual eyes opened and be seeking the Spirit of wisdom that Paul talks about.
·         First step is the hardest as many people have been either deceived into false teachings or hurt by the Church.
·         Post-Christendom cultural values of "inclusion", religious tolerance and suspicion makes this hard for serious believers
Christian evangelism seem to comes down to two questions to quietly raise over coffee with individuals:
·         “Are you really happy with your life”? And
·         “Do you know that Jesus Died so that God could forgive you and bless you?”

At just the right moment, the right person has to challenge us to face our poverty. That right person may be you.

Step # 2: Feeling our hunger
The second step in becoming a saint is to go beyond mental awareness of our need, to personally feeling the spiritual emptiness inside. The saints are the ones who can resist the temptations of addictions that just dull the pain of life..
  • The saints are the ones can feel that what they really need is the love of God in Jesus.
  • Hunger drives them to read the Bible, to find a good church, to seek spiritual teaching and direction and to develop a spiritual life of prayer and Christian fellowship. This is why many serious Christians are in Spiritual Direction or belong to a home group.

Step # 3: Weeping for the world
As we come to personally experience the healing love of God and understand the holiness of God, we spend more and more time weeping. We weep because the Spirit of Wisdom has opened our spiritual eyes and we now see how our rebellion and the rebellion of others around us has broken the heart of God.
  • Cross is a reminder of the cost of our sinfulness to Jesus.
  • We become so ashamed we feel we just want to die and be taken away. But that is not the good news.
  • Good News is that whatever we have done, no matter how destructive we have been, we can always repent and ask Jesus to forgive us.
  • We weep because many people around us cannot believe that they can be forgiven. Our tears for others wash and purify our own hearts and bring us even closer to the heart of Jesus.

Step # 4: Rejoicing in our persecution
We cannot bear to stay at step # 3 for long. This could easily become a soul-destroying state of depression. We may cycle back through it: but in the end we have to rejoice in our forgiveness and move on to face our persecution.
  • As we grow in spiritual knowledge and awareness; and go through our own healing, we have a longer view of life and are transformed into a different person
  • This change scares people - they become afraid and attack.
  • Persecution is painful - also a sign that we are becoming saints.
  • Good News is that we have Jesus and the Holy Spirit to help us

The challenge is to keep working through these four stages.

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