To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their [Lord] and ours
1 Corinthians 1:2
The first letter to the Corinthians has been, especially in the circles in which I move, been called the letter to the Californians. There is much in common between ancient Corinth and modern California — pleasant climate, bustling trade and healthy economy, affluence, multiculturalism, and sin of every imaginable variety. In Corinth, the sin had invaded the church in some impressively vile forms — forms that Paul tells the church not even non-believers would approve of — and the church was countenancing these sins and not dealing with them. This was a church wealthy in knowledge and material wealth; a comfortable and secure group of believers.
It sounds much like the church in modern America.
Why all that build-up? Because Paul still calls those believers saints. He does not approve of their sin or give them license to wallow in it in perpetuity, but he also recognizes that these people are believers. Wrongheaded, undisciplined, and sin-countenancing believers, but believers despite all. He tells them that they have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, reminding them that God has set them apart as something special. And he reminds them that they are part of something larger than just their local fellowship, they are a part of all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. To be a believer at all is to be a part of the body of Christ — and His body has no geographical boundaries.
As I wrap up a week that has been difficult on my family and has seen more than I would like of me failing to do what I ought to have done, it is good to be reminded that if I ever was sanctified in Christ Jesus, then I am still. God has not given up on the process of making me what He wants me to be and He has not revoked my calling to His family just because I have been a poor example of what His children should be. To the contrary, He reminds me that I am still a saint; sanctified; a part of His body in this world, however small that part may be.