When St. Paul mentions saints in his letters, he is talking about baptized Christians. So, we are saints. Whenever anyone asks you what your position in the church is, you may reply that you are a saint. (Of course, how you live your life and how well the other person knows you will determine that person’s reaction – hopefully not a belly laugh.)
Now, the only problem with self-declarations of being a saint is that we might appear to be conceited or overly ignorant of our sins. Anyone who knows us well might not buy the notion of any of us being a saint. But saints we are nonetheless. We are all sinners. But God considers all of us saints.
Certainly, the popular notion of a saint is one who produces acts of sacrificial service. And it is the church who created this perception. We classify certain people as saints and commemorate their lives with specific dates on the calendar, like St. John the Baptist on June 24 or St. Francis of Assisi on October 4. These people we honor in this way provide us with examples of living a saintly life. They do not make us lower saints. There are no degrees of saints. They merely warrant the honor of having their names on the church’s calendar.
In popular parlance we might refer to someone who does good and very rarely acts inappropriately by saying, “She is such a saint.’ We imply that this person is better then we are. And she may well be a better person, but not in the sight of God. For once we are lifted up from the waters of baptism, we become a saint. There is nothing we need do beyond being baptized. No matter how much we mess up, we are still a saint.
Being a saint is nothing we earn. It is given us through God’s grace. By being saints, we are heirs with Christ in God’s kingdom. In the waters of baptism, we die to our sins like Jesus took away our sins on the cross. Coming out of the waters of baptism, we are reborn into a new life with Christ. We become a saint. We have a special status in our relationship with God. This status can never be taken from us.
So, rejoice! You are a saint! And by ordering your life according to the Baptismal Covenant (BCP pp. 304 – 305), you will be seen as a saint by others.