GIFTS YOU WON’T RETURN—THE GIFT OF POSITION
Twice in Romans, chapter one, verses six and seven, Paul uses the expression “called” to speak of our position in Christ. God calls us into a love relationship with His Son and into a family fellowship with other believers. To be called is for God to seek us out and summon us by the drawing of the Holy Spirit. By faith, we respond to that call.
Then we are called, “saints”—that is our position. In the English translation the words “to be” are inserted, as though we are called to be saints. If you notice, however, these words are italicized, which means they are not in the original text but are supplied by the translators. Usually, that helps for a smoother reading, but in this instance, it muddies the waters. We are not called to be or to become saints, but are called saints—that is, what we are! It isn’t something we earn, not something bestowed upon us by some ecclesiastical authority, and not for a select few. It is the status of every true child of God.
We are saints—called out—set apart for God. You may argue, “Well, some Christians don’t behave very saintly!” That is true. We need to become what we are! The challenge is that even though our position is “in Christ”—that’s the New Testament expression—we are also, “in Rome.” The community of faith is fleshed out in a local assembly—in this case at Rome. This is our dual position—in Christ and in Rome—in the world, but not of the world. We may think of Rome in its splendor—its massive marble columns and imperial power. It was that, and more—it was a den of iniquity, a moral cesspool where all manner or vice and perversion were woven into the rotten fabric of pagan culture. Yet, that is the very place God plants a church! The challenge is to remain pure in a polluted world. We can, if we recognize our position as saints.
How Paul wanted to go to Rome and use it as a launching pad for planting churches! “All roads lead to Rome” and we might say from it, as well. This was the heart of the empire. The great missionary wanted to go to the frontier of Spain and to stop by Rome first. Church planting is still at the forefront of the way to spread the Gospel at home and abroad, by the called. Perhaps God is calling you to be involved in a direct way in planting a church.
Are you in Christ? If you are, then your position is secure. Thank God that you are His beloved. Begin to live as the saint which you are. Learn to view yourself as God views you in Christ. Be His witnesses where He has planted you—on the job, in the school, around the neighborhood. You are set apart for this. You may not feel worthy—but it is God who makes you holy.
Did you not know that even dirt can be holy? When Moses was summoned to the burning bush, God told him to take off his shoes for he was on “holy ground!” It was holy, because it was set apart as the meeting place between God and Moses—just some old dirt! Even dirty sinners as we were have been set apart by God’s presence in us and now we are called into His service. He can use you today!