Jason Roach, London City Mission
We want to be connected! Many people I speak to know that heart singing, blood pumping, breath stopping emotion that all kinds of relationships can bring and we crave that.
Every year there are new dating shows with new twists “added in” that get lots of airplay. And yet loneliness is at an all time high - and as a culture we feel that that’s something we need to fix. We want to be connected!
And the Bible says that we’re wired this way, because God is a lover who made us to love like him.
God is a God of love - In fact before the universe began - God was this awesome community of love: The Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit. And they couldn’t keep this love to themselves - in Genesis 1 we learn that God made the world - and made us in his image. That means he made us to love like him: to be connected to others in loving relationships.
Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean romantic relationships. In fact one of the most powerful images of relationships that we see in the Bible is about friendship. In a culture that can be obsessed with sex, we’ve lost the bible’s vision for deep, committed, life giving friendships that energise and sustain us.
But alongside that God has written marriage into the story of the bible to point to a bigger relationship that he wants us to enjoy with him. The Bible begins with an earthly wedding between Adam and Eve and ends with a heavenly wedding between Jesus and his church. And in Ephesians 5 we see that the earthly picture points to the heavenly one; the permanent, passionate, life giving relationship that Christ offers to all who trust in him.
Marriage is the place for sex, because it points us to stars to something way beyond itself. Single people give the world a picture of this by keeping sex for marriage - showing that in heaven we will be married to and enjoy Christ alone. Married people give the world a picture of this by not cheating on their spouse and serving them sacrificially, like Jesus served the church by dying on a cross.
Living this way is a challenge for us whether we’re single or married. In fact a single person from my church said to me just yesterday, “When you started inviting me round for meals at your house, I began to see that family life wasn’t quite as picture perfect as I imagined it to be.” And I’ve learnt, just as she has, that it’s a network of relationships - the family of the church - that sustain our walk as single or married people.
In my lowest moments - the thing that’s kept me going more than anything else, when I was single (and struggling with contentment) and now that I’m married (and struggling with contentment), is the relationship that I have with Jesus. He loves me before I ever loved him back, He promises never to leave me or forsake me, and there is a heavenly wedding to come that will blow my best experiences in this life out of the water. And so I live in the light of that.