I'm about to wrap up another series on marriage at Highpoint Church. I love teaching on marriage. The only problem is not everyone is married. I remember being a single adult. Frankly, in the frustration of wanting marriage but still waiting, I would roll my eyes at the announcement of yet another sermon on marriage.
From my years specializing in Singles ministry, I am very aware of the tension that a marriage sermon creates for singles. I know of many singles that simply opt out of church whenever marriage is the topic. Let me say right off the bat, Singles, I understand your tension, frustration and the often insensitive approach the church takes toward singles. I remember being frustrated at comments like, "One day you will 'graduate' from the singles department." What is that!? Is marriage a graduation? Does marriage in some way make me more valuable? Singles, on behalf of all the insensitive and ignorant statements made by we preacher types - I am sorry.
Singles are NO LESS valuable than married people. Singles are NO LESS called to follow and serve God than married people. Singles should not be treated like adolescents...unless they act like it (which can also be very true of married people). There are many singles that would gladly marry if there were quality opportunities. Many Christian singles choose not to marry because frankly the options available can appear far worse than staying single. I am so proud of singles that are making the most of their lives instead of waiting passively and waling around like they have been shafted by God.
I received a very encouraging email from a single guy in our church after one of my recent marriage sermons (click here to watch part 2 of A Ridiculous Idea Called Marriage). As you read it, you will see the maturity of this single adult not letting the topic of marriage keep him from receiving truth from God's word. I was so impressed with this response I had to share it. Singles, I hope you know the love I have for you and the respect I have for your stage of life. That being said, please don't let your singleness stand in the way of God's word speaking into your life. Allow this post to be the challenge you need to continue expecting God to do big things in and through your life - regardless of your marital status.
"Sunday was such a powerful message. I have to admit, that I currently find myself being very content as a single man. Lack of contentment in Him lead me to rush into not one but two marriages, and selfishness and pride led me to allow those marriages to end. God’s mercy has led me to a deeper relationship with Him, one in which I find great satisfaction, and I am trying to reconcile the seeming contradiction between “it is not good for man to be alone”, and Paul’s exhortation in 1st Corinthians 7 where he says “an unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs, how he can please the Lord.”But let me get back to how awesome that message was Sunday. It was so very powerful and I didn’t realize until it was almost over the deep significance of it. Andy, the beautiful cycle you mentioned, 'choose the one, cheat the many, cleave together.' Well, it fits so perfectly in a real intimate relationship with Jesus...
Choose the one. You said we should put out old flames and not play with fire, and this is so wise. When we choose Christ, the very One, we should lay our idols in the dust, and let Him teach us to live in a way that avoids picking up new idols. After all, we worship our idols in ways that are reserved for Jesus, just like we get satisfaction from “old flames” and “new fires” in ways we should be getting and giving to our spouses.
Cheat the many. Making Him our number one priority is so wise. Choosing not to have hobbies, or habits, or attitudes, or relationships that interfere with a growing relationship with Him should be our goal. Having empty hands and hearts so they can be filled by Him, man that is good stuff! For a long time I tried to “be a good Christian man” and do it all for everyone, it was a disaster. Just like a married man can’t be there for everyone (even in good things) or his marriage will suffer, so my life hidden in Christ will suffer if I try to do everything. Choosing what’s best over what’s good is wise (where have I heard that before??lol!). We all know its intimacy with Him that is the very best.
Cleave together. Oh man. This was where the light dawned for me that this cycle you taught is my relationship with Him.
a. Time. Lately, I have been learning to pray, and Saturday night I spent a lot of time with the Lord, and there was these few moments where I was truly filled with the Spirit and worshiping Him with great joy. I remember thinking that an hour of prayer is worth those few minutes. And then Andy, you said that you don’t believe in quality time, but that it takes quantity of time to get quality time. You don’t know when that quality time will occur. You can’t predict it. Well, that’s how it seems to be in prayer. It takes time with Him, lots of time to properly intercede for loved ones, to surrender, to experience Him in those moments that are too beautiful for words.
b. Talk. Learning to talk to Him, and learning to listen to Him, not only in official praying but a walking way, that has been a great joy. Its deepened my relationship with Him. Hearing from Him and responding, there is so much joy in it that words can’t do it justice.
c.Touch. An intimate touch from Him, its…more than satisfying. It just makes everything else seem to pale in comparison. I have been marveling at what He has spoken to me recently, that He loves me so much that next to me is not close enough, and that is one reason that He chose to live in me, because deep down inside, only there is close enough for Him.
Okay this has turned into another long email from me but I just wanted to say again how awesome this message was and just share with you some of what He has said to me. I love how He loves on us in specific and exclusive ways, and how He teaches us and binds us together."
Singles...this is how to listen to a marriage sermon! I hope this encourages you.