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God’s Plan in Singleness

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
January 28, 2021 9:00 am

God’s Plan in Singleness

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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January 28, 2021 9:00 am

If you’re single, do you ever feel like the world is telling you that you’re missing out on something because you’re not married? Even in the church, we often equate marriage with completion—but Jesus taught something altogether different and more beautiful.

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Today on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. Jesus asserts the radical idea that marriage is not ultimate, and that's proven by the fact that we don't take it with us in the resurrection. And that means that these relationships now that are so important, mothers and brothers or wife or father, they're only temporary. The relationships you form in the body of Christ, however, those are permanent. Welcome to Summit Life with Pastor J.D. Greer.

I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. Tell me if you've ever experienced this. As a single person, have you ever felt like the world tells you that you're missing out on something just because you're not married? Even in the church, we often equate marriage with some sort of completion. But thankfully, Jesus taught something altogether different and more beautiful. Today, Pastor J.D.

shows us what Jesus's death and resurrection created that trumps even the nuclear family as the center of God's kingdom. He titled this message God's Plan in Singleness. Today, as we kind of get rolling into this series, we're going to talk about singleness. Now, I know you say, well, why in the series on marriage and relationships we're going to talk about singleness first off? Well, first, very obvious reason, about 6,000 of you listening to me this weekend at one of our campuses are single. This generation in American history will remain single this generation in American history will remain single longer than any previous generation in human history. The average age for an American getting married is now 30 years old for a male and about 28 years old for the woman, which is the highest that it's ever been as far as we know.

By the time today's middle schoolers reach 50 years of age, one in four of them will have been single for their entire life. My family and I at one point had a college girl here from the summit church live with us for an extended amount of time. And she told us, she said, you know, it can be really tough to be single at the summit church, at a church like the summit church. First, she said, everybody is constantly pressuring you to get married like something's wrong. Second, she said, when you do notice somebody in church that, you know, you're pretty sure was checking you out and you were kind of checking them out too.

She said, all of a sudden you really get self-conscious about everything. She said, for example, like how do you worship? Do you go, you know, full on Pentecostal hands in the air, washing heaven's windows, or is that going to be just a little bit too much? Maybe you should go with the, you know, the underarm charismatic carry the TV.

I just want to receive from the Lord posture. Maybe that's less intimidating. She says, when, and when you, you know, when, when, when you stand up and start the sermon, you know, you got to reach for an actual paper Bible because there's no way if you pull out your Bible on your phone that you take God seriously at all. Right. Did I say it? Yeah, I said it.

Okay. But so you've got to reach that paper Bible to show that you're a serious follower of Jesus. She said, and then she said, Oh, she said, then I sometimes worship you and I got to make sure I hold up my left hand.

That way they can see there's no ring on it. She said, that's a consideration. Then at the end, I forgot about that one, but in between two of the services, she came up and said, you forgot about this thing about holding up your left hand. Then she said at the end, she said, then there's the, when the come forward for prayer, she's like, should you go forward for prayer to show that you're broken and humble and, and you need prayer, or does that just make it look like you have issues?

Uh, she said, so I don't really know what they do. I said, why don't you just come forward and pretend you're on the prayer team and then it will look like that you, you know, are, are, are in the ministry team. So anyway, so much pressure, right?

So much pressure to think about. So anyway, the reason that I'm starting with singleness is that we have so many singles at this church. More importantly though, um, the reason we're starting with it is because Jesus's entire approach to marriage is grounded in a concept that redefines not only marriage and everything attached to it. It also redefines singleness, which is why in Matthew 19, Jesus took a question about divorce and in his answer, he wove a teaching on singleness into it after teaching that marriage was beautiful and it was a reflection of God's plan and a reflection of who God is.

And after explaining that not only was it beautiful, it's really, really difficult. And if you're going to survive in it and thrive in it, it's going to take God's help. Then Jesus turns and says this verse 12, four, there are also eunuchs. If you remember a eunuch is somebody who's read normal reproductive organs, um, or have been damaged or, or, or, or they're not formed correctly. He said there are some eunuchs who have been so from birth.

And I told you that, that almost all commentators agree that eunuch here is a metaphor. Not only does it refer to an actual unit, but it's a metaphor for people who aren't married. Um, he said, there are some who have been so from birth, maybe that means because they are intersex, or maybe it's because they are, I don't have normal sexual desires that would lead them to get married. And the way that God prescribes, there are some who have been made eunuchs by men. Uh, that would mean, you know, literally it would mean that somebody who is a slave or a political prisoner, but metaphorically, what that would mean is they might want to get married, but for whatever reason, the circumstances of life haven't led that they would choose it if they could, but they don't seem to be able to at this point, maybe they haven't found the right person or there's some situation that precludes them from getting married. Lastly, Jesus says there are some who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. That's those people who have chosen singleness because of something they feel like God has called them to at some point in their life. And Jesus said, there are people who are eunuchs for one of those three reasons and let the one who is able to receive this, let them receive it.

Let them receive it. Here's what's radical and what Jesus is saying. When Jesus brings this up, everybody that was listening to him, all the Jewish people knew that he was referring to Isaiah 56, which was a beautiful old Testament passage in which eunuchs are promised in the coming of the Messiah. Eunuchs were promised an inheritance that was better than the inheritance of sons and daughters. You see, in Isaiah's day, prophet Isaiah's day, about 800 years before Jesus, singles were considered to be missing an essential part of a happy, blessed life.

Not only were they without a life partner, without a companion, they were also being unable to have kids and that meant that kids, because kids guaranteed your inheritance to the people of God, it meant that in many ways they were cut off from what they thought was a spiritual heritage. So many people regarded eunuchs to be cursed. Isaiah 56 prophesies, though, that in the coming kingdom of the Messiah, that all that's going to be overturned and the eunuch is going to be blessed right alongside the married, equally to the married, because in the Messiah, the eunuch will be given an eternal inheritance that is independent of children or family. The eunuch may lack physical family, but he or she is woven into God's forever family. In the Messiah, Jesus is saying, all curse is removed and singleness is no longer a stigma.

That's what's radical about what he says there in that verse. I want to use this idea from Isaiah 56 that Jesus quotes. I want to use that to deal with a deeply held myth in our culture. One not only believed and propagated by our culture, but sadly, one that we promote all too often in our churches also. It is what I would call the marriage equals completion myth. This myth assumes that marriage and a nuclear family is some kind of ultimate state for mankind. And thus, if you don't find the special someone to spend your life with, well then you have missed out on the essential part of a full and happy life. You can hear the overtones of this myth in how we in a church like this one often try to encourage or console someone who is single. We will say, well, don't worry, you know, you're going to get married someday as if we are saying, poor you.

I know it must be hard to miss such an essential part of a happy life. Dr. Bruce Ashford, who was one of our elders here at the Summit Church, and he's about my age, and he is vice president provost of the Southeastern Seminary, for many years at this church was single. And Bruce used to say, he said, I know they mean well, but he said, I just got so tired of it. Every time I was at a wedding or at the Summit Church, these sweet little old ladies would come up and they'd elbow me. They'd be like, don't worry, Bruce, you'll be next. He's like, I just got so tired of it, I started to pay him back at funerals.

I would go to them and they'd elbow me and be like, don't worry, you're next. He said, I just was tired of it. But I said, you have a hateful spirit and we need to pray for you, and maybe cast out a demon. But anyway, or sometimes we'll tell singles, God has just a little, God just has a little bit of work left to do on you before he brings you that special someone. That's why you're waiting. You know, you got to become someone special before God can give you someone special. And the single person is left to think like, wait, I'm not special or I'm not lovable yet.

That's not to mention the truly dysfunctional people I see who get married. And I'm like, look, if marriage was some kind of reward to those who had become special and lovable, I feel like God got the wrong address on that couple, am I right? Everybody pointed at somebody and say, amen.

No, no, I'm kidding. Don't point at somebody, but say, amen. A lot of churches treat their singles ministries as little more than sanctified substitutes for singles bars as a way to try to fix what is a problem. In fact, I know of one church and I'm not making this up. I know of one church that called its adult social group pairs and spares. So the single people are the spares? The assumption is that marriage is the only way to live a full and happy life. Now I realize we can all in here kind of laugh about stories like that, but that myth, it leads to a lot of confusion and pain. And Jesus, who was single himself, taught explicitly against this myth.

In fact, he taught against it so strongly that if you didn't know better, you'd be tempted to think that Jesus was dissing on marriage altogether. So what I'm going to do is I'm going to take you on a little gospel tour. You can stay there in Matthew 19 because we're going to end up pulling the bus right back into that station.

So you can hang out there and I'll catch back up to you in a moment. But I want to take you through a little gospel tour for a few minutes because I want to show you every place that Jesus taught this and show you how he developed this theme. So Matthew 19, I'm going to head over to Mark 3 for a moment.

Mark 3, we're still in the marriage is completion myth. Mark chapter 3, and his mother and his brothers came. By the way, stop there for a minute, just a little Bible trivia.

For those of you that were raised in a church that taught that Mary was a perpetual virgin and that she didn't have any other kids, you'll need to look no further in this verse right here to know that's not true. Jesus had brothers. Mary and Joseph had other kids, and so they would have been Jesus's half brothers and he had a family.

So his mother and his brothers come, they need to have some kind of family meeting to discuss something. And they were standing outside and they called over to Jesus. And a crowd was sitting around Jesus and the crowd said to him, hey, Jesus, your mom and your brothers, they're outside and they are seeking you. And Jesus answered them in response, who were my mother and my brothers? I'm looking about at those who sat around and he said, here are my mother and my brothers. Whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and she is my sister and she is my mother.

Now question, what is going on here? Does Jesus not love his mom? Did he not love his biological brothers? Does he not identify with them and feel like he is a part of their family?

Of course he did. He is simply using this opportunity to teach something very important. And that is he had a family, listen to this, more important to him than even his biological one. In his death and resurrection, he was creating a forever family that would trump even the bonds of biology.

This is a radical idea. And one, chances are, you probably haven't heard a lot in church. The nuclear family is not the center of God's kingdom. The family unit may be the building block of our society and it should be. God created it that way in creation.

He ordered it that way. But the nuclear family, while critical to our civilization, is not the center of God's kingdom. Again, that is not to say it's not important, just that it's not ultimate in the kingdom of God. And Jesus said, yeah, my mom and my brothers, that's great, but you want to know who my forever family is, is people who trust in me and are obeying my word. Luke 11 is where I'll go next. As Jesus was saying these things, and he's teaching some truth, a woman in the crowd calls out to Jesus, blessed is the womb that bore you and the breast at which you nurse. Now, let me just go ahead and stop here for a minute and say, I love it when people talk back to me when I preach.

Preach it, preach it. I'm going to go ahead on record and say, that's got to be the weirdest thing ever said to somebody when they were preaching, am I right? Blessed Jesus are the breast at which you nurse. And Jesus turned around to her and said, gross.

No, no. He said, he looked back at her and said, blessed no, rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it. Take a minute and let that sink in. Somebody basically said, Jesus, how awesome it must be to be related to you. And Jesus' response is, nope. Those who obey the word of God are more blessed and precious to Jesus than even his own biological mom. I mean, just think about it for a minute. How awesome would it be to have Jesus in your ancestry tree?

You order 23 of me and that comes back. We're going to have some theological problems if that does, but if that came back, okay. I'd be working that into any conversation I could. Well, you know, my ancestor, Jesus, I think you've heard of him. I would talk about that all the time. But Jesus is like, well, it's not that big of a deal. If you were biological, happened to be biologically related to me, if you were the son, great, great, great grandson of one of my half brothers. That's not a big deal. If you were even my mom, that's not a big deal. But if you were united to me by baptism and have my spirit dwelling in you, that's a huge deal. Christopher Yuan, who is a Christian author, I really respect, writes a lot about same-sex attraction because it's something that he's dealt with throughout his life.

He is single. He says, and I quote, our earthly families are temporarily bound by blood, but the family of God is eternally bound by the blood of the lamb, and that's a stronger bind. Mark chapter 12 is where we'll go next. And the Sadducees, who say that there is no resurrection, which is why they are, Sadducee, okay, you've been in Sunday school, ask Jesus a question. Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man's brother dies and leaves a wife but leaves no child, the man must take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. I know that's a little weird, but that's what it was in the Old Testament, okay?

That was the law. Well, there once was a man who had seven brothers. The first took a wife, or once there were seven brothers, total. The first took a wife, and when he died, he left no offspring. So the second took her, and he died, also leaving no offspring, and the third likewise. And the seven all left no offspring, okay? So all seven married this woman, and none of them have kids with her, which by the time you're like number five, I'm like, that's enough, okay? I'm not going to be number five because there's obviously a thing happening here. Seven left no offspring. Last of all, the woman also died. You're like, this sounds like the prologue to a Mormon joke.

It's not, okay? This is a real question. In the resurrection, when they rise again, whose wife will she be? Because the seven had her as wife. The Sadducees don't believe in resurrection. They're trying to ridicule Jesus for believing in a resurrection, and this is their test.

He's got seven, you know, this woman's got seven husbands. Whose wife is she going to be in the resurrection? Jesus, you idiot. All right, again, I told you, never play Bible trivia with Jesus. Jesus's response is to say, you were wrong, not just in the way you think. You're wrong on the whole question, because you don't know the scriptures or the power of God. For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage.

They're like the angels in heaven. Jesus's answer, very simply, in heaven, marriage and the nuclear family do not exist. We saw that last weekend, according to Jesus in the Garden of Eden, marriage was God's plan A for dealing with our loneliness. God looked at man and said, it's not good that man should be alone, and his plan A to deal with that was to create the first marriage. I told you that loneliness is the one ache that we have that does not come from sin. God created us in a perfect state to still desire human companionship. In heaven, there will be no marriage or biological family, and that is not to say that we will there in heaven have lost our need for companionship or to say that it's okay for us to be lonely up there. It's simply that God will deal with our loneliness in a new and better way. Marriage is no longer going to be his plan A for dealing with that loneliness, and so that means whoever we are married to down here, we're not going to be married to them up there.

In fact, we won't be married at all. Now, I will admit to you freely, okay? Part of me finds that a little sad. Well, in heaven, when I see Veronica, there's not going to be anything.

Like, well, I at least be able to give her, you know, kind of a wink and a suggestive nod, right? You say, no? Well, I don't know.

I mean, I don't know about that. That's probably getting too detailed, but you're like, well, that makes me sad too. Well, there's no sadness, of course, in heaven. And that's because in heaven, you see, our joys, we know this, are not diminished at all. Nobody's in heaven and felt like they're missing out on anything.

Our joys in heaven are not diminished. Listen, they're heightened. They're transformed. They're matured. C.S.

Lewis in his book, Miracles, had a great example for this. He said a toddler, a toddler thinks that the single greatest pleasure in life is candy, right? So imagine you're a grandmother trying to explain to your toddler granddaughter some of the things you most love about life.

Staring out at the beauty of the Grand Canyon, reading a good book, falling in love and getting married, watching one of your kids graduate. And as you're trying to explain this to your toddler granddaughter, she looks back at you and says, yeah, but can you eat Skittles while you do those things? You've got a hard time explaining to her that these pleasures that you're describing are so much better than eating candy. So much so that when you're wrapped up in one of those pleasures, you're not even going to think about Skittles.

C.S. Lewis said that we, like that little child, lack the ability to understand the joys of eternity. What we know now are the pleasures of earthly things like sex or married life or nuclear family. We do not know, except in glimpses, though, he said, the other thing which in heaven will leave simply no room for them. What that means is whatever God has for us there is going to be even better than what we have here. And that means that whatever it's like up there, I will be even closer to my wife and closer to my kids as the family of God there than I am here, which makes me less sad. The point is, Jesus asserts the radical idea that marriage is not ultimate.

And that's proven by the fact that we don't take it with us in the resurrection. And that means that these relationships now that are so important, mothers and brothers or wife or father, they're only temporary. The relationships you form in the body of Christ, however, those are permanent.

I love how John Piper says that. He says, Jesus was here calling out a new family where single people in Christ, or people not in traditional families, are full-fledged family members on a par with all others, bearing fruit for God and becoming mothers and fathers of the eternal kinds. Marriage is temporary.

And it will finally give way to the relationship to which it was pointing all along, Christ and the church. It'll be put away the way a picture is no longer needed when you see somebody face to face. When you're separated from somebody you love, you pull out their picture, you look at them.

I do it when I'm on a trip and I miss my kids. I'll look and pull out a picture of them. But when I'm with them, I don't pull out pictures of them.

I look at them because they're standing right in front of me. You see, marriage is a picture. It's a picture of a more beautiful relationship, Christ and the body of Christ and the relationships there.

And when you're finally in the face to face with a person, you're not going to need a silly little picture like marriage any longer. Let's go on to Paul now in 1 Corinthians 7. Here's how Paul talks about it. He picks up on Christ teaching and he says, the appointed time of Christ's return has grown very short.

Won't be long before he's back. From now on then, let those who have wives live as though they had none. You're like, what in the world does that mean? Let those people with wives live like they didn't have a wife. That sounds like the mantra of people going to spend a weekend in Vegas, but that is not what Paul is saying.

I can assure you. Here's what he says. Verse 30, for the present form of this world is passing away. The world is passing away, Paul says, and that means along with it, watch marriage and biological families because that's something for this world. So for a married man to live as though he had no wife means that he must reflect on the fact that his marriage now is neither permanent nor ultimate. And the flip side of that means that those of you who are single now should reflect on the fact that your situation is not permanent either. Both situations, marriage and singleness are light and momentary. And soon, both of those situations will give way to what is permanent and ultimate, the body of Christ. Marriage and singleness, Paul says, are temporary gifts that God gives to fulfill his purposes on earth in this age, but not in the next one. Second Corinthians reminds us that we do not focus on what is seen, but what is unseen. You're listening to Summit Life and today's message is part of our teaching series called Forever Family.

As always, you can visit us at jdgrier.com. You'll find resources, transcripts of all of the teaching available free of charge, and you can also send us a note to let us know how we can be praying for you. This month, we've created a resource the whole family can use together.

It's a set of 50 memory verse cards with a matching magnet. Encourage one another as you hide more scripture in your heart this year than ever before. Even though it seems like a kid's activity to work on memorizing scripture, there are dozens of reasons why this is such an important thing for us to do throughout our lives.

But for the sake of time, I'll hit just a couple of them. First, Jesus memorized scripture. Jesus quoted the Old Testament frequently in his life in his ministry. He quoted from 24 different books of the Bible, 180 times.

It's clear that he thought the Word of God was the ultimate authority in his life. Perhaps the most compelling reason for us to memorize scripture is that we're called to do it. Colossians 3 16 tells us to let the Word of God dwell in us richly.

Before we can teach the Bible or apply it in our lives, we've got to know what it says. This set of cards comes with our thanks when you donate today to support this ministry so that more people can dive into the gospel with us on a daily basis. Give and request your All Things New memory verse cards when you call 866-335-5220. One more time, that's 866-335-5220.

Or you can request the set when you donate online at jdgrier.com. By the way, if you haven't checked out Pastor JD's newest podcast called Ask Me Anything, you'll want to do that today. Pastor JD gives quick, honest answers to tricky questions, and you can find it online at jdgrier.com or through your favorite podcasting app. I'm Molly Vitovich. Friday on Summit Life, Pastor JD Greer teaches us how to see singleness as a unique opportunity in ministry, relationships, and God's kingdom, an important and even essential role in the church. And we're learning about it Friday on Summit Life with JD Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by JD Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-16 13:21:41 / 2023-08-16 13:32:30 / 11

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