Romans is one of my favourite books in the Bible – it’s packed with so much truth of God’s love for his people. Here’s how Paul addresses the people of Rome at the beginning of the letter :
“To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints” (Romans 1:7)
Paul was writing to a huge group of people that he didn’t know and had never me – and yet he had no problem in calling them these things: beloved, and called to be saints. Like any group of people, there were plenty of imperfect, messy people in Rome, people who had messed up and were not living “good” lives – and yet none of this made them undeserving of these labels.
And that is because these things – being loved by God, and called to be a saint”, are not distinctions of classes among Christians, but words that belong to everyone. The Bible says that God SO LOVED the world that he gave his only son (John 3:16) – his love is not dependant on our ability to live up to any standards.
While the word “beloved” tells us about the heart of God, the words “called to be saints” says something about the nature of our lives and our relationship with God. The word “saint” means exactly the same thing as the word “holy” – we are called to be holy. And we are made holy by the things that Jesus did for us on the cross – He died that we might be made holy, and salvation comes when we recognise this.
There are two things that we need to remember:
1) These words are spoken over YOU. You are loved by God, and called to be holy – this has nothing to do with “class” of Christian, or how good you are, or even whether you know Jesus yet – you are so, so loved by God.
2) These words are also spoken over everyone else. They include the ones that we don’t think deserve the label. They include the people that are difficult to be around, the ones that are difficult to love. They include the ones that don’t seem to live up to it – they are so, so loved by God.