We are used to feeling out of place.
Whether it is among our friends and their “baes” (I grow increasingly annoyed by this term) or family gatherings during holidays, we know the discomfort of the “odd man out” very well. For some of us, that may even seep into our church life. We find ourselves frequently thinking that the church has no place for us in our singleness.
This became painfully real for me a few months ago as our church was gathering statistics to report back to the denomination at large. When it came to counting the number of families, I learned that I would not be counted among the numbers because I had no spouse or dependent children.
For some time, a war was waged in my mind as I tried to hold off anger and bitterness. Unsure of where I stood in this odd limbo, I sought counsel in Scripture and I found myself in the school of Christ located in 1 Corinthians 7 and 12. Though chapter seven is full of marital counsel, Paul does not forget the singles. (Paul even states that he wishes single Christians to be free of concern!)
In verses 25 through 35, Paul presents the case that the single Christian is in a peculiarly blessed position to serve the Lord. By illustrating the divided desires present within marriage, Paul exhorts singles to recognize their state for what it is: free from the concerns of pleasing a spouse and freed to the concerns of the things of the Lord.
Paul knows from experience the blessings that accompany singleness. At one point, he expresses his desire that all could enjoy the benefits of singleness (1 Corinthians 7:7). He recognizes that which we as singles struggle to comprehend: Singleness is fertile soil for undistracted devotion to the Lord.
How can I be useful as a single in the church?
Being part of the body of Christ automatically ensures our usefulness in the church (1 Corinthians 12:15-18). Even though the body of Christ is comprised of many members, all members are necessary to the proper function of the body.
You have probably been down this path of discussion many times. “I get it. Each part is necessary and no one part is superior to the other. But I don’t seem to know what part to play.”
Did you run right past 1 Corinthians 12:18? “But now God has placed the members, each of them, in the body, just as He desired.”
Once I read that verse, my internal struggle was alleviated. This realization was far more than a soft light bulb over the head. I was forced out of the theatre of wasted singleness and my vision was adjusted to the radiance of God’s plan. In my singleness, the Lord had placed me within His body just as He desired.
Suddenly, the focus shifted from self-centeredness to finding ways to serve the church. As the Heidelberg Catechism puts it in Question and Answer 55: “Each one must feel himself bound to use his gifts readily and cheerfully for the advantage and welfare of other members.”
A world of opportunities opened before me, and I went about service to the church in any capacity I could find. Over time, my singleness was viewed less as a burdensome hindrance and more as a cherished gift to Christ’s church.
What about you?
Are you choosing to dwell on your singleness, convinced you have been wronged by God, or do you realize that in your singleness you are free to serve Christ in ways the rest of the church cannot?
The church needs you.