“(So then) with my mind I am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh I am a slave to the law of sin.” Romans 7:25b
It’s called St. Paul’s ‘inner conflict’ and, for Lutherans, it is highlighted by Martin Luther as “simul justus et peccator” — simultaneously saint and sinner. Oldlutheran.com used to sell t-shirts with a graphic that, depending on who’s looking, says either “saint” or “sinner”.
One day I was wearing my Sinner/Saint shirt and someone asked me what it meant. “Well it depends on your perspective,” I said. “From one perspective it says ‘Saint’ but from another it says ‘Sinner’.” As I reflected on this I noticed something. For me this T-shirt reflects how often in life it feels like other people see us as “saints” or they only seem to see us possessing “saintly” qualities. On the other hand, we often see only our flaws, mistakes and sins, and stew on those.
I often struggle with that. At times, it can be hard to see the saints that we are inside. But I think it is an important part of who we are to see the “saint” within ourselves. Then, it is equally important that we see the “saint” within those we often want to label as sinners.
Prayer: Lord, please help me see you in myself so that I may see the saint that I am even when I feel completely a sinner. And let me also see you in others, so I am able to see the saint in them. Amen.
Deaconess Student Sara Manning – Boise, ID