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Thursday, February 13, 2014

To be Undivided: Reflections on Christan Singlehood.

There are some things you anticipate about growing up.

You anticipate graduating from high school. You anticipate working a job. You anticipate paying for all those things you thought were free as a kid (okay, maybe not that one).

Something I did not anticipate was how surreal it would be seeing people I grew up with getting engaged and committing themselves in marriage.

Not long ago, I thought I wanted to enter the relationship arena, but after suffering a debilitating K.O. and doing some soul-searching, I began to reflect on my vocation as a single Christian.

I don't mean to be critical, but sometimes the advice given to single Christians is simply patronizing.

In fact, if I ever hear the term "gift of singleness" again (a gift conspicuously absent from Scripture) it will be too soon.

Some well-meaning people have suggested Jesus as a stand-in boyfriend for single Christian women until they find a guy, but even if that is theologically sound advice, it still leaves us men out to dry.

Furthermore, some equally well-meaning Christians who are in romantic relationships treat us single people as though it were immaturity, spiritual or otherwise, keeping us from being where they are.

As I pondered this issue, God provided wise counsel in the form of a woman from my church who explained to me that there were certain things I was doing for the Lord that simply would not be possible if I was married or had kids or was in a serious relationship, at least to the degree I was currently engaged in them.

It was like a light bulb went on and I was immediately reminded of Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 7:

I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord. (vv. 32-35)

As far as I'm concerned, this is the joy of being a single Christian: to be completely devoted to Jesus in body and spirit, undivided in will.

To be Christian and single isn't to be defined by the absence of something, but the presence of an undivided will geared toward the Lord.

Paul isn't dissing marriage (this is the guy who wrote Ephesians 5 for crying out loud!), he is being realistic.

Marriage, engagement, dating--they all change things.

Time is divided, resources are divided, emotions are divided (and necessarily so).

When Paul talks of the "affairs of this world" he's not talking about the carnal or sinful, but the temporal and non-spiritual.

As single Christians we are able to throw ourselves into the service of God in way that we couldn't if we weren't single (see Jesus and Paul as pertinent examples).

And I don't know about you, but this makes me really excited!

Think of the all the possibilities available to us!

So put away "The Notebook", step away from the Ben and Jerry's, and don't even think about another video game marathon night.

Instead of being depressed about not having a significant other, why not lose yourself in the service of others out of love for God?

I fully believe I will one day have a wife and 19 wonderful children (give or take a few), but right now I am focused on serving God with an undivided heart. 

And if my wedding day never comes, what have I lost devoting my whole self in loving service to a God whose love means everything world to me? 

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