Now Concerning the Unmarried

1 Corinthians 7:25-35

John 15:1-7

Being a single adult in a church culture can be … what’s the word … awkward.

For some reason, many church communities revolve around an actual, or perceived, core of nuclear families.  Despite the extremely diverse array of family systems in any community, people who are unmarried (for any number of reasons) can feel like they’re on the outside looking in, as the church appears to be designed the fit the needs of married people and families, rather than single people.

And this culture can have impact beyond church programs.  It can lead to conversations and comments that are awkward at best, and emotionally damaging at worst–especially when one of the church’s goals is to communicate the unconditional love of God.

But when the apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, he seemed to almost dismiss people’s marital status as relatively unimportant.  If you’re single, stay single.  If married, stay married!  Paul tries to keep the Corinthians’ focus on what mattered most — Jesus’ return and the completion of the Kingdom of God.

Verse 35 is the key: in whatever circumstances you find yourself, live in “undivided devotion to the Lord.”

For reflection:

  1. In what ways do you think marital status impacts a person’s purpose in God’s Kingdom?
  2. If Paul believes marriage is good, why does he also lift up singleness in this passage?
  3. In what ways could you not just “overlook,” but even leverage your marital status (single, married, divorced, widowed, etc.) to make the greatest impact in our community for God’s Kingdom?
  4. Jesus commands us to remain connected to himself, as branches in a vine.  And then he commands that we love each other as he loves us.  How will this impact the way you relate to people the next time you’re at church, at work, and so forth?

Many blessings,

MM

 

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The Myths of Marriage

Some myths die hard.

Let’s define “myth” in this case as a truism that we hear permeating our culture, but which few people ever really take the time to test.  Are there any “myths” about marriage that it’s time to put through the ringer?

The truth is that anyone who has been in a committed relationship for very long starts to realize very quickly that many of the myths they may have once believed are “busted” along the way.  Here are a few:

Myth #1: Wives should submit to their husbands.

Whoa.  This one has been abused for a looooong time.  But it’s time we read it the way Paul intended us to.  Eugene Peterson’s translation in the Message really helps.  Husbands, it’s time to get real about who is blessing whom in your marriage.

Myth #2: Love is a feeling.

Well, take a look at Ephesians 5:1-2.  See if Paul describes love as a feeling.  What you’ll find is rather a list of…you got it.  Actions.

Myth #3: If love is true, it’ll be easy.

Along with this comes the myth that there is someone “just right” for each of us, or that “you complete me.”  Rubbish.  The reality is that the hard times are what really strengthen our most intimate relationships.

Myth #4: Proximity is the same as intimacy.

Couples sometimes end up living in “parallel.”  They think they are close because of common goals, chores, etc.  But what happens when the kids are raised?  When the house is paid off and you retire from your job?  Happy couples are mindful of finding ways to intersect their lives, and not just live in parallel.

Myth #5: Your partner should meet all your needs.

Uh, well, this is just not going to happen.  The One who can meet your needs is in fact the One who created you, and your spouse.  And who brought you together.  And who is calling you to reflect His divine love and purpose.  The living God can meet our individual needs and our needs as couples and families.

For reflection:

  1. What “myths” have been busted by your real-life experience in relationship?
  2. How would you like to be married to…yourself?  What would that be like?
  3. Make a list of 3-5 “small things” you can do often (daily, weekly) to pour love out on your partner, the way God pours love out on you.

Many blessings,

MM

 

The Keys to “Happily Ever After”

Marriage.  Singleness.  Dating.  Divorce.

If it has to do with intimate relationships, it can be pretty sensitive territory.  So we’re moving into this five-week series, “Happily Ever After” on marriage and relationships, with full knowledge and consideration that everyone has a unique story.  Still, it’s the very importance of the topic of marriage and relationships that makes it so important to talk openly about.

Even if you grew up around “happy marriages,” people in those marriages probably didn’t sit you down and say, “Now let me tell you why our marriage is so healthy,” and then give you a simple 3-step master plan.

In Philippians 2:1-8, Paul longs for the church to experience unity, even within the midst of their personal uniqueness.  And we can do this, he claims, if we have the same mindset as Christ, who emptied himself for our sake.

Pastor Aaron today used the image of a fuel tank.  We can fill someone’s tank, but we also have to take from it.  Any relationship is a balance of give and take.  Unfortunately, many relationships are running on fumes.  One or both parties are using up the reserves but not doing anything to fill it back up again.  What would it look like to have the mindset of Christ and pour ourselves out for the sake of the person with whom we are the closest?

For reflection:

  1. If you had to list up to five things that your partner does to “empty” your tank, what would they be?
  2. If you could list up to five things that your partner does to “fill” your tank, what would they be?
  3. What’s standing in the way of sharing these things with your spouse or significant other?
  4. If you currently don’t have a significant other, how can thinking through these questions help you if and when you do date or marry someone?

Blessings,

MM

2018: Moving Forward

“The Church must be outwardly focused to be inwardly strong.”  

This morning, Pastor Aaron shared some of the fundamental principles that made the original followers of Jesus bond so permanently, and which to this day still solidify the Church’s identity and purpose.

When Jesus initially called disciples to himself, he identified himself as having a purpose: “I will send you out to fish for people” (Mark 4:19).  Even after Jesus’ ascension, the early church simultaneously saw health in their community and rapid growth.

The reason?  Purpose.

“Healthy community flows out of a unified cause — not the other way around.”

So the question each of us is asking today is: “What part is God calling me to play in the purpose God is fulfilling through this congregation and in this community?”

For reflection:

  1. Have you ever shared a common purpose with someone so powerful that it created a lasting bond?
  2. Have you ever lacked a common purpose with someone and felt your friendship grow weak?
  3. If you had to tell a stranger what UPPC’s purpose was, what would you say?
  4. If you had to tell a non-Christian what your purpose is as a Jesus follower, what would you say?

Many blessings,

MM