Family holiday events when you’re single can be hard. I still remember the feelings I had at Thanksgiving and Christmas as I watched my cousins bring their significant others to family events, even the ones that were quite a bit younger than me. I felt so behind and a bit like a loser. I’m not saying anyone ever set out to make me feel that way. In fact, I’m pretty sure that they didn’t, but the situation made me feel behind in life and more alone than ever. It really put a damper on the holiday spirit.
I imagine that Jesus may have felt the same way. Jesus might have been that eternally single cousin that never brought a girl to any family events. Maybe people started to wonder about him. Did he not want to form a family of his own? (which PS was very important in that day and time).
Jesus’ New Definition of Family
Just because Jesus did not form his own nuclear family in the form of a wife and children, doesn’t mean he was against family relationships. Family was still very important to him. He just defined family a bit differently than most people. He called all those who obeyed his Father his family. It is to this family, the church, that he invites all who love and obey God to be a part of, regardless of marital status.
In the new kingdom that Jesus establishes on earth, the family doesn’t just grow through marriage and having kids. Marriage is not necessary to grow God’s kingdom or His family. We talked in last week’s blog post about how our current families will eventually pass away. We will then all be one big family.
Living on Earth as We Will in Heaven
Single Christians have the unique opportunity to start living now as everyone will eventually live in heaven. Though they may not form nuclear, biological families of their own, single Christians are still called to be a part of the family of God and to help it to grow. They can add to the church’s growth through outreach to others. They can also add to the development their brothers and sisters in the church (of any age) through their service, just like any other member. They can live now as everyone will live for eternity.
In a family, each member has an important and irreplaceable role to play. The same is true of unmarried members of the Body of Christ. Though they may sometimes feel alone, even within the family of God, they teach the church something very important about God. “In singleness we see not only where our true dependence lies, but also who and what our real family is. Singleness reminds Christians that the church is our primary family.”
Singles remind the church how important the family of God really is, a reminder those who are busy with their own nuclear families often need. Singles demonstrate through their lives that a Christian’s ultimate loyalties should lie with God’s family. They can help their married brothers and sisters to keep from being isolated within their own families and their own families’ needs.
Church as Family
Singles should turn to the family of God to meet their relationship and community needs, just as Jesus did. Though the church is not a perfect place and never has been (even in Jesus’ time), Jesus turned to those around him as well as his Father in heaven to love and support him throughout his ministry. Jesus experienced the difficulties which come with community life (including being misunderstood and even betrayed), and his example can be an encouragement for the single who feels alone or outcast.
I’m not saying that this is an easy thing to do, even if you’re in a great church. Many church functions and groups are geared towards married people and families with kids. You may have to make an effort to find your place and that “family feeling” in a church. Don’t just rely on single and young adult groups either, though these can be great starting places to find community. These types of group can become just as isolated and self-focused as families and couples. We’re all family together. We shouldn’t always be segregated by age or stage of life. We need to learn from one another, even those that are very different from us.
My Wish for You
I hope you keep Jesus in mind this holiday season, and not just because we’re celebrating his birth. May you remember that God’s very own son came down and lived as a single person, forever validating and consecrating the single life as something very special. While singleness can be very hard and very lonely, you have with you someone who has already walked that path in Jesus.
Don’t be fooled by the world which may tell you you’re less than if you’re not dating or married. Don’t listen to the lies that say you’re missing out on the best parts of life. Trust in God’s plan for you and know that he walks with you even in the darkest and loneliest paths. These pains and trials will eventually pass away, either in this life or the next. However, love will remain: God’s love for us and our love for our brothers and sisters in Christ.