Monday, July 23, 2007

Defining Relationships

Nowadays one of the things that defines us is our 'marital' or 'relationship status'. Things like Facebook and MySpace both have sections devoted entirely to that. Either you're 'single', 'in a relationship' or 'married'. Of course, in the eyes of the world our goal should be to be in a relationship or married. It is, apparently, the only way to find true fulfillment, contentment and happiness.

I beg to differ.

I am currently in a loving, committed relationship. A relationship which involves giving and receiving, serving and sacrifice, forgiveness and grace, intimacy and friendship and which gives me true peace.

This relationship is with someone who is perfect, loving, merciful, beautiful, forgiving, gracious, kind, never makes mistakes, is always faithful and totally trustworthy. Someone who is always with me, always has been and always will be. Through whom I can do anything and can find my true identity, who sees the best in me and does everything in their power to protect, help and strengthen me.

No matter how many times I am unfaithful to this person, however many times I let them down, no matter how many mistakes I make, no matter how much I insult them, betray, fail or disappoint them, I know that every time, if I come, say sorry and ask for their forgiveness, it will be given.

Their love for me will never ever fail, no matter what I do. Not only that, I have proof that they love me enough to die for me.

Sounds pretty good eh? Maybe some of you are wondering who this perfect person is. Let me tell you, there's only one person who can meet this criteria. I suspect most of you have already figured it out.

Its Jesus Christ.

Well Jesus/God/Holy Spirit, the three in one. We can define it in may ways, but I like to put the person of Jesus in there. He after all lived among us, shared our human experience, with all its difficulties and temptations. He has been abused, insulted, rejected and tortured. He's been through the mill - He knows what is like to suffer. Any feeling, experience or emotion I have, He's already been there.

He's my Father, friend and Saviour, God on earth. I have a living relationship with Him.
The best thing is though, is that although this relationship is exclusive, that we can ALL have this relationship and it is always exclusive in that no-one else has the same relationship with Jesus.

All of this is to prove a point. Just because we're single doesn't mean second best. Think of the freedom of being single. Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the World, was single. As were many of the disciples, and Paul the Apostle.

Singleness is not second best and what's more does not and should not ever preclude you from serving God powerfully and being in leadership. Some churches seem to choose the opposite way and allow only married couples in leadership, when the Bible never says anything of the kind and practically proves through the lives of Jesus most significantly that there is no law on singles not serving.

You can choose what you do, when you do it, how you do it, without the anxiety of worrying about someone else. You are free as a Christian to go anywhere and do anything for God without having to take anyone else into account in your decisions. You can take even bigger risks for God. Not only that, but as a Christian you're not really 'single' anyway, as Christians have Jesus with them all the time, wherever they go.

Here's a little story from my own life. I'd been praying for confirmation from God about my relationships and whether I would get married. For months and months I prayed about it. Then somebody at my church last month completely out of the blue asked me if I had a girlfriend. I said no. He said simply "You will". It was like God saying that "James, for now I want you to be single, I want you to find your character, identity and security in me. But one day, you will get married. Trust me, put me at the centre and follow me and one day, when you least expect it, I will put someone in your path".

So that's what I've done. I've decided to really devote my time and energies into spending time with God, deepening my relationship with Him, increasing my knowledge of Him and developing my character and making my security and identity in Him. I'm actually very happy being single, because it allows me to devote more time to God and go on an adventure with Him.

When the time is right I believe God will put someone in my path. When will that happen? I don't know. Tomorrow, next week, next month, next year or even further on? But I trust God that it will. I also know that when it does I will be as fully reliant on God as possible and have my security in Him.

Putting your security in anything or anyone on this earth will just cause pain and hurt. Putting that in Jesus saves your life and guarantees your future. Is it not better to be single and know Jesus than be in a string of bad relationships and failed marriages and not know Him? I know which one I'd choose. I'd choose to be a single Christian, than in a relationship and never know my Saviour. I want my life, my identity and my character defined by Jesus and not by anyone else.

Our relationship status should define us - but our relationship with Jesus, not with a member of the opposite sex. Who is defining who you are today?