Looks like part 2 took longer to churn out than expected! I do typically try to set aside time to review sermons and write my reflections on a Tuesday though so I suppose I am still sort-of on schedule.
4. How has it challenged my thinking?
I do actually recall being quite challenged by this the first time I heard it, especially given the changing names part.
At that time, Jacky and I were still discussing marriage and whether or not I was going to change my name after we were married. He wanted me to change my name, I did not want to. We eventually decided that I would change my name, but just not immediately after getting married. Regardless, I wouldn’t mind being referred to as Mrs. Chan.
This time, hearing it again so soon after doing my reflections on Christ’s Family First I was really struck by the significance of being adopted into the bloodline of Christ – especially as a woman – and just how dramatically that should change our mindset.
Jesus embodied it first – he declined going out to see his ‘blood relatives’ in order to be with his new spiritual family. Do I, now that I am married – do we, Jacky and I as a married couple – still put Christ’s family first? And are we honest to our single friends about the struggles of marriage and singleness? Have I also fallen into the trap of idolising marriage, or at least inadvertently suggested that it is a natural result for all quality Christians as long as you are not gay?
Post for another time, but I am convinced that you can be a devout, God-glorifying Christian while struggling with same-sex attraction by choosing to remain single – and I believe that while there are many who are heterosexual that continue to have the gift of singleness for the rest of their lives, God calls all His homosexual followers to a life of singleness of celibacy if they remain homosexual and still desire to follow Him.
So while I always strive to shower my homosexual friends with as much love and fellowship as possible to encourage them in singleness if they are believers, or share the love of Christ if they do not believe in Jesus, I am ashamed to admit that have definitely used language to suggest my beloved heterosexual brothers and sisters should be married.
p. Nick wrote:
“One thing you will not find anywhere in Scriptures as God’s will for his people; as a goal or purpose for which believers to strive, is for single people to get married.”
And I highlighted this in my previous post but I think it’s worth repeating:
“Can you imagine if our community were so focused on reaching the lost, discipling the saved, and living out the gospel that questions about whether someone should wait to date or get married were influenced by that urgency?”
“If we would do that, then we would have something meaningful and even attractive to offer those whom we would call to live their entire lives in chastity.”
5. What practical applications can I take from it?
At a very basic level, “You’re such a catch! How are you still single?” – words like these are exactly what I need to avoid saying. Rather, I should change my mindset to glorifying God for the work that He is doing in their lives regardless of what their marital state is, and praise my brothers and sisters with, “I’m so encouraged to see how you’re living wholeheartedly for God during this season of singleness!”
p. Nick also wrote many examples of practical application steps to live out the gospel in a way that “the author of Hebrews is referring to … in Hebrews 10:24-25.” The ones that really resonate with me at present are:
- [Cultivating] friendships that satisfy the need for intimacy without mistaking intimacy for sex.
- Couples investing in singles.
- Investing in other brothers and sisters’ lives with love and loyalty; with safety and intentionality to genuinely bear each other’s burdens and walk with Christ.
Honestly I think it’s still a lot, and overwhelming. I feel like I do strive to do these things already, but it’s hard. It’s hard because I’m at a different stage of life now, and the struggles are different. There aren’t that many single women at my church that I know of right now (and my mind wants to argue, “Jacky and I are already investing in one, do I need to do more?”), it takes so much time and effort and I’m an introvert, and as for my previous church, I am already — you know what? I’m making excuses.
It’s hard. That’s the point – Jesus never said it’d be easy. It requires a completely different mindset. I have to be on my guard in case I slip back into thinking – or worse – suggesting marriage is the natural next step that my single Christian friends should strive for, when it’s really not high on God’s priority list. It requires sanctification in me and for me to be even more conformed to the image of Christ. So I will do my best, and with prayer, trust God to do the rest.