Since God’s kingdom is for all people, it makes sense that God’s word would have direction for people in all stages of life. May the church and the kingdom life be an ever increasing comfort and encouragement to you as you dig deeper into the treasures that God’s word has for your life beyond this basic introduction.
“But if you do marry, you have not sinned…yet those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that.” – 1 Corinthians 7:28
Often in our world, and even in the church, single people are left feeling like second class citizens. In this passage Paul has a completely different take on singlehood. Being single means that you can focus on serving God and the kingdom in the greatest way possible!
“But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.” – Ephesians 5:3
Singles (and married people too!) are called to live a radically pure life. Personal and relational purity is a real temptation in our hyper sexualized culture. Our greatest help in overcoming sexual temptation is humble discipleship. Like you did when you talked with your bible study partner about sin, it’s important to keep being open and to not let embarrassment hinder you from getting encouragement and help when needed.
Here are two truths:
1) There was no such thing as “dating” in bible times and even their practice of engagement was very different from ours.
2) Dating culture in our world today is really messed up!
God’s word is timeless so it gives Christ followers great guidance for dating and engagement:
“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” – 2 Corinthians 6:14
True Christians only date and marry people who share their convictions about Jesus!
To be unequally yoked means a big ox would be tied to a little ox – a faithful person to an unfaithful person. Their union would be out of control, unfruitful and disastrous.
Single people in our church are encouraged to participate in a counter-cultural practice called encouragement dating. The bible is silent on dating but its calls to be an encouragement to one another are numerous. Men and women in the church frequently go on group dates with the purpose of mutual encouragement. Take that worldly dating culture!
“However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” – Ephesians 5:33
The bible is a treasure trove for transforming marriages and families. Biblical marriage, like biblical discipleship, is all about seeing the other person as more important than yourself. Mutual submission, tons of grace, and a double helping of help from other couples in the church are the ingredients for an awesome marriage no matter how difficult marriage has been.
“And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.” – Mark 10:11-12
Jesus couldn’t have been more clear. Christians do not get divorced. This may seem basic, but just believing that God hates divorce can transform a marriage. The result is that marriage becomes a true lifelong commitment, you know, til death do us part. When there is no option to throw in the towel, couples work so much harder to be united and grow in their relationship! The church is not a place for perfect marriages – it’s a place for imperfect marriages to get the encouragement and input they need to thrive.
If you have been divorced, don’t be discouraged. God is graceful and wants you to grow in whatever life stage you find yourself in.
If you are “spiritually single” (married to an unbeliever) there’s great encouragement for you as well. Check out 1 Peter 3:1-7
“Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”…Fathers do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” – Ephesians 6:1-4
Paul nails it! Just like husbands and wives fall into a crazy cycle of being unloving and disrespectful (as seen above), children and parents fall into a crazy cycle of disobedience and anger. The bible is filled with wisdom for parents and children.
In our church, we provide kid’s church classes, preteen and teen ministries, and mentors as a supplement and encouragement to each family’s home discipleship. Every family is different but some common practices that can help you build a family that goes with God are regular family devotionals, prayer times with one another, and learning to disciple your children’s hearts rather than just their behavior. Exciting! (and maybe intimidating – ask your bible study partner how you can start to practice these invaluable family faith builders.)
“Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.” – Proverbs 11:14
“I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” – Mark 2:17
One of the greatest benefits of the kingdom life is the wealth of wisdom that your brothers and sisters in Christ have to offer. Not only is it spiritual advice, it’s also free!
The only thing that keeps people from gaining wisdom is pride. Remember, the church exists to help us grow closer to God – it is implied from the beginning that none of us have arrived, we’re all just going with God. Don’t let potential embarrassment keep you from the wisdom and growth God wants you to experience in the kingdom life!
This week’s study can only give you a glimpse of the kingdom life. Hopefully, it’s been illustrated and augmented by great experiences at church and life changing talks with your bible study partner. If you’ve filled out your Field Guide for this week, it’s time to meet up with your bible study partner and talk through this week’s discipleship discussion.