On Singleness: The Inclusive Love of God

Mount Kilimanjaro, Mawenzi

From its inception, Christianity was the most radical movement of all time. The incredible nature of the love of God reshaped all cultural norms of the day. This became evident when Jesus took a child in His arms and said,

Whoever welcomes one of these little children in My Name welcomes Me; and whoever welcomes Me does not welcome Me but the One who sent Me. – John 9:37

In society, children were grouped with women and slaves. They had no rights and were considered little more than possessions. But, Jesus changed all of that with His inclusive love. With one statement, He gave children value.

God continued to show His inclusive love when He gave great value to women when Paul wrote,

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for Her. – Ephesians 5:25

God placed wives as valued partners in marriage.

But there is another segment of the church, which is often overlooked, or minimized. That group includes those who have never been married, and those who are no longer married. This group lives with the constant question, “When are you going to find someone?”

In the time of Jesus, a woman had to get married to survive, and if for some reason she lost her husband, she was expected to marry again. But God’s inclusive love extended to singles as well.

The apostle Paul, proclaimed that singleness was a gift from God. In fact he wished that we were all as he was.

John Mark Comer, in the book Loveology, asserts that being single is gift from God.

Singleness was a radical idea in Paul’s time. To stay single was to carry a stigma for your whole life and to risk dying in abject poverty. But not only was singleness okay in the early Church, it was encouraged! Historians argue the early Church was the first movement ever to hold out singleness as a viable way of life.

Do you have the calling and ability from God to live single in order to serve God in a greater capacity? Make sure you get that last part. For followers of Jesus, the point of singleness isn’t freedom from responsibility. It’s freedom for more responsibility. Paul thinks it’s great if you stay single. At the end of the chapter he says he thinks it’s “better” than marriage. But Paul isn’t saying you should abdicate responsibility, work part-time, go surfing every day, travel a bit, play in a band that never goes anywhere, and do nothing but chill for ten years of your life. Does that sound anything like the Gospel to you? To Paul, the point of singleness is to serve God in ways you can’t if you’re married.

If you are single, whether you want to be single or not, you have an opportunity to share God’s inclusive love with others. Don’t spend your time wondering when life will be different. Invest your time in service to Christ. God has given you this time to do great things for Him. The gift may only be yours for a season, so serve the Lord with gladness. If the Lord has a different plan for you down the road, He will bless you in ways you cannot imagine.

The family of God is filled with very different people, who are all joined together by the blood of Christ. That is what makes us family. We all have a place in the Kingdom, and we all have a ministry. If you are single right now, what is your ministry?

Questions To Consider:

  1. How does a person know if they have the gift of singleness? Is there some deciding factor? See 1 Corinthians 7:9, 1 Corinthians 7:36-38
  2. Of the many ministries in your church, how many of those positions are held by unmarried people (nursery workers, Sunday School teachers, servers, etc.)?
  3. How can we encourage single people to focus more on ministry? See 1 Corinthians 7:32-35.
  4. The overwhelming majority of singles face the “When are you going to get married” question from well-meaning Christian friends. If singleness is indeed a gift, then are we encouraging our single brothers and sisters or discouraging them?
  5. What is Paul’s encouragement to all Christians in 1 Corinthians 7:29-31? See also Matthew 10:34-36.

Watch the Loveology Video Bible Study #1:

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Your Turn

If you’re single, do you hear that question far too often for your comfort? If you’re married, how hard do you push your single friends to find someone and get married as soon as possible? What do you think of Paul’s encouragement to the early Church (and to us!) to stay single for the purpose of taking more responsibility in serving in the Kingdom of God? Join the conversation on our blog! We’d love to hear your thoughts on singleness.

John Mark Comer

John Mark Comer serves as the lead pastor of Solid Rock Church in Portland, Oregon, a city voted as the “most depressed in America” by a recent nationwide study. Coffee, food, culture, indie bands, and lots of depressed people. He fits right in. Prior to planting Solid Rock in 2003, John Mark was the college pastor at a Calvary Chapel megachurch and played in a band signed to BEC recordings. John Mark is married to Tammy and they have two boys, Jude and Moses. They are in the process of adopting a little girl from Uganda.

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Fred Bittner

Fred has a passion for small group Bible studies. His experience includes 20 years in ministry and 16 years in public education. He started and led a singles ministry that included several hundred believers, and helped establish a small group ministry in a growing church. He has seven books in print. His latest book, The Art of Worship is a great primer for new believers. Visit his website at www.2t2ministries.org

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