Last Sunday I found a Church that speaks to me for the first time since high school; for the first time since I was chastised by a pastor; for the first time since some high school girls were vicious towards me and my broken heart. It’s amazing how much finding something amazing brought back all those feelings of hurt from so long ago. But I digress…
Last Sunday I found a Church that speaks to me. They put on a “Singleness” conference tonight and tomorrow morning. I decided to go. I am single so why not. I have a burning in my heart to be in Church at the moment and I’m going to enjoy it. So for two hours on my Friday night I was sitting in Church. I am super glad I did.
Hunter Beaumont was the Pastor who delivered the message. He is the lead pastor at a church in Denver Colorado and was on loan tonight. He is 38 years old, single, and not miserable. 🙂
Here’s the recap of the lesson:
Hunter began by discussing the definition of singleness. It has a negative connotation and is typically linked to the status of not being married. Singleness is defined as a waiting period, as a period of preparing for the coming of marriage. But what if singleness is linked to something else, not marriage? What if it is possible to live a full, robust, and joyful life as a single person by focusing on the Kingdom of God and not on being married?
The tension between these two definitions is discussed in two passages in the Bible. Genesis 2:18 ” Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him'” and in 1 Corinthians 7:6-7 “Now as a concession, not as a command, I say this. I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and another of another. To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am.” In these passages the idea of being single is suggested to be both a positive and a negative thing. So does God (and the Bible) have an over reaching teaching about being single that is applicable to all forms of singleness?
There are many different definitions of singleness. One is the person who just graduated from college, 23 years old who hopes to be married someday but is mostly content with their station in life. The next is the 33 year old who used to be the 23 year old but is now more concerned with being that old and still single. There are also the newly single, those who were married and now divorced, then still the ones who give up love for the kingdom of God because they feel a “calling” to do so.
The Bible provides us with a far reaching truth about singleness; father reaching than just that singleness is a waiting period. This truth touches all the different kinds of singleness.
This stubborn reality that does not fail to change is the Kingdom of God. Singleness is all about the Kingdom of God.
Jesus was a travelling preacher with a politician’s stump speech that he spread everywhere he went. Matthew 4:17 “From that time Jesus began to preach, saying ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.'” Matthew 4:23 ” And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.” Mark 1:14 ” Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believer in the gospel.'” Basically, the Kingdom of God is coming just around the bend; that it is almost here.
Matthew 6:9-10 “Out Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” The Kingdom of God as a reality is God’s will in Heaven being acted and lived on Earth. It’s that simple. Marriage is not the ultimate reality we are striving for.
Ephesians 1:7-10 “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” Here Paul is speaking of the Kingdom of God but not using those terms. Sometimes God gives us these promises explicitly and some times in metaphor. Revelation 21:1-4 also discusses this.
There’s two ways in the Bible that discuss how to enter the Kingdom of God and how to spread the Kingdom of God. It is the difference between the two that is the most important.
1. Old Testament – people are born into Christianity and spread it by getting married, procreating, and passing their good name on to their children. There is no room for singleness in this world. Widows are the most vulnerable in this society.
Genesis 12:1-3 “Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.'” God is promising the highest blessing of the time and is undoing all that Adam and Eve lost in the fall of the first sin. Genesis 15:1-6 continues to talk about God providing Abram’s barren wife with the fruitfullness of a son who has a son who has many sons who populate the earth. This fruitfullness is used to populate and spread God’s kingdom.
Hunter used two great extended metaphors to discuss single people in the Old Testament view of God’s Kingdom. Having a healthy single life in the Old Testament is like being a unicorn. People knew who you were, but it was an oddity. Single people were the Shrek in a world of Brad Pitts. Not good.
God often uses disciples to live out the parables he is teaching. Jeremiah was such a person. Jeremiah 16: 1-5 shows people that God is removing his blessing by making Jeremiah be a single man with no children.
2. New Testament – people are spiritually born and spread the Kingdom of God by making disciples of people, not by getting married and procreating. Singleness is a season to build your legacy in the Kingdom of God which is making disciples and pursuing the Lord’s desires for your life.
John 3:1-8 and Galatains 3:26-29 discuss the change because Jesus saved his people. Mark 10:29-30 “Jesus said, ‘Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mothers or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.'” This is not a discussion about giving up material possessions as one would think today. Rather Jesus is discussing a para dime switch from focusing on procreating and have a good family name to pursuing a legacy of disciples in the Kingdom of God.
Matthew 19:10-12, 1 Corinthians 4:15-17, 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 and 1 Corinthians 7:6-9 all discuss this switch is view.
The last two Bible passages Hunter discussed were the most interesting to me.
1 Corinthians 7:32-35 “I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interestes are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.” Paul is suggesting that it is actually a positive, beneficial thing to be single and un-attached. People are able to wholly focus on God and his legacy for the Kingdom of God.
Matthew 13:44-46 “‘The Kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that fields. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.'” The pursuit of the Kingdom of God should give you joy and should give you desire to spend everything you have to build a legacy, a legacy of spiritual children.
Hunter then did a question and answer session for about 30 minutes. He had two thoughts that I will share here. I don’t remember the original questions but I love his points.
1. On being called by God to do something – God can give you desires but if he does then he will also provide you with opportunities and talents to be able to act on that desire. Most often, when pursuing the Kingdom of God, when desire appears, take it one step at a time and wait for the opportunity God is providing you.
2. What does it look like to take what God has given you and invest it in someone else? As a single person, you have do not have the distraction of a spouse to sidetrack the talents God has given you so how will you invest those in others? What does that look like in this world?
I’m excited for tomorrow morning, for the second half. Rachel and I sat in the Church for awhile afterwards discussing everything Hunter discussed, especially the last two points. It’s nice to have someone to bounce ideas off of and to share experiences. We have similar struggles.