Josh, Kyle, & Bob finish our series on singleness by casting vision for a bigger picture of singleness.
They challenge us to set our eyes on God instead of only our sins and brokenness, and go on to discuss what it means to consecrate one’s singleness to the Lord. They call us to give ourselves more fully to Jesus, entrusting Him with our whole being.
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This reading comes from First Corinthians seven, beginning of verse 32. But I want you to be free from concern, when he was unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord. But when he was married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and his interests are divided. The woman who is unmarried and the virgin is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy, both in body and spirit. But when he was married, is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband. This I say, for your own benefit, not to put a restraint upon you, but to promote what is appropriate, and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord. We’ve been doing a series on singleness, and this is our final in the series. Bob and Kyle, let me just launch us off with this question kind of given this this verse? What’s the bigger picture here? As we’re talking about singleness? What’s the big picture for Christian singles? I stumped. You
Bob Ragan 1:21
know, I was thinking just well, that that at the very end of that verse, it says about having undivided devotion to the Lord. I mean, he kind of summarizes it, right. That’s where he brings it down to that, I think applies to all of us. But here, especially since Paul’s addressing to those of us in the state of singleness is how can I have undivided devotion to the Lord. So that doesn’t mean that we’re in church, 24 seven, that doesn’t mean we’re walking around with our hands folded in prayer with halos above our head just walking around. But as I’ve shared with many that, you know, we bear the image of Jesus, whether in church on Sunday, or whether we’re riding a roller coaster at an amusement park, that there’s something here that there’s this bigger picture, how can I in my state of singleness, have undivided devotion to the Lord? And then Paul, I think gives some distinctions there between men and women, in a way. But that’s a focus I need to have in my heart, or how can I walk through my life daily, and be devoted to you.
Kyle Bowman 2:34
And it’s important to be the best you that you can be. That’s the big picture. That’s part of the big picture. It’s not about whether you’re married, whether you’re single, whether you’re tall or short, or what kind of job you have. How can you be the best you that you can be? God has uniquely designed you to interact with other people, so that his son Jesus comes through? Yeah, yeah. And However, he has designed you to do that, how do I make sure that I am the best person that I can be? What are those things that God has given me as gifts, and talents that will help Jesus come through? Yeah,
one of the things that I we’ve talked to parents about in the past is, is when it comes to their kids, they want to keep their kids sexually pure, you know, which is a you know, a that’s a whole nother topic, whole nother podcast we talked about but but we encourage parents have a bigger vision for your kids than just that they’re going to remain sexually pure, or just, they’ll remain virgins until they’re married. Like, and one of the one of the visions that we have for our kids in my home is that our kids will learn to love. Well, we know what love is, first of all that love is, is the ability to give yourself as a good gift for the service of another for the good of another, not just the pleasure of another, but the good of another. And then it’ll learn to live like that. And so whether our kids remained virgins till they’re married, I hope they do or not. But if they don’t, they can still aspire to that goal. If they do, they can still still aspire to that goal. And I think here in the same way, we talked earlier in the podcast about the goal isn’t marriage. The goal is something bigger than that. And so for married people, we want to learn to lay down their life for others. And maybe it begins with people in our family, for single people who want to learn to lay down their life for others.
Bob Ragan 4:34
You know, Josh, what I see so commonly with the men that come to see us in the ministry, they’re coming here because of a particular sin. And what I so often see especially when there’s depths of sexual addiction, is that they’re they’re so sinner where they’ve lost their god awareness. And, and so I have to break I have to give them some important information here. Number one is not just one sin you’re going to have to deal with, it’s probably quite a few. All right. But what I want them to realize, too, there’s a bigger picture here, there’s something so much more. It’s not about overcoming just one sin or this particular brokenness, but it’s, it’s becoming who God created you to be. And to be able to walk in that that bigger picture. And so I think about this, for those of us in the state of singleness is that, my gosh, each and every one of you listening to this podcast are gifted, God has uniquely gifted you, there is something that you bring to the body of Christ. And again, if I’m thinking of myself with this category, I’m single I’m, I’m so self aware of what I’m lacking. I’m, I I’m desperate for a relationship, it’s like that so can block my vision, that I don’t see that Oh, my gosh, would you have given me some gifts you you’ve, you’ve called me to bear your image you’ve called me to, to, to pour out to those who are around me. Now granted, yes, we need time to work on process into address those broken areas in our heart. But it’s recognizing that the goal of working on those broken areas is so that I can be poured out to others to with the life of Jesus with the fragrance of Jesus, so that we become known in community. And we become known in real relationship. And so I want to challenge these men to rise up to that especially those that state of singleness to to be able to see you’ve got something so important that’s needed in the body of Christ, will you will you choose to to rise above to truly become an overcomer that the image and fragments of Jesus just pours through you in the community that God places? Yeah, yeah.Yeah.
The other thing I like about this is that for you know, we talked in an earlier podcast about how for married people, the fact that you’re married with kids almost give me like a badge that you have. But if we have a higher goal, if there’s something about who we unique, uniquely are, and that God is calling us to, then then we’re not off the hook, just because we’re married, we’re not off the hook. We’re single, yeah, God is calling each of us higher and higher towards Christ likeness, and the way that we live our lives, the way that we experience others, the way they relate with others, and ultimately, in the way that we lay down our lives for other people. I like this word I’ve been hearing a lot recently. And I think there’s some value in it this word of consecration. And so the idea of you just speak to that, like, what does it mean to consecrate your singleness to the Lord,
Kyle Bowman 7:41
you have to be willing to put in front of the Lord, everything that you desire, all the things that you want in life, your hopes, your dreams, and to be able to say, Lord, I am placing this into your hands, I’m submitted at all to you and allowing you to make the choices for me, which is scary. Yeah, it’s very scary, just because we don’t know, if they’re in the midst of that, getting there, there might be some pain, there might be some suffering some heartache. But there’s also good, there is joy and happiness and peace. Also, that goes along with that, right? You know, cuz it’s kind of like, it’s kind of like you have, like $500,000 in your hand. But you keep looking over at the million dollars that you have, and you’re not willing to give the Lord the 500,000, to see what he’s gonna do with the 500,000, as opposed to keep saying, Lord, I want a million. So just be able to give that up. And even if it means having to do it in some sort of symbolic way, I think it’s helpful. If you have a three by five card and write down all of that stuff that you feel like the Lord, you would want the Lord to do for you. And, and place it before him. And whether you take it and burn it later, whether you tear it up. But it’s a way of being able to really kind of like symbolically release that to him. Yeah. But then I think you don’t leave it there. You get something else that’s gonna represent his promise to you. So that you are constantly reminded that God, I’ve given all this to you, but you also have a promise for me and you have things that you want for me. And so I’m going to use this symbolic thing as a reminder that I think I may have given up a lot. But I have no idea what you want to lavish upon
me. So you’re you’re talking it’s kind of a consecrating singleness, part of what you’re talking about consecrating handing over to the Lord putting under his control in his domain. Are the are the things that maybe you hope for the you don’t have So, consecrating the longing for marriage counseling, the longing for children, consecrating the longing for for whatever the specific scenes are that go with that the, you know, the holding a child in your arms or, or, you know, an anniversary or a wedding or those things, really handing those over to the Lord and saying, Lord, I give these to you. When I think about that idea of a sacrifice of praise or making your life a living sacrifice, and Kyle, that’s a that’s a really a cute image of that it’s a it’s a visceral image of me, like giving your life as a sacrifice.
Kyle Bowman 10:39
Now think it would even be helpful to do that with somebody, not just by yourself. I had a conversation just last week with a woman who is single. And she said, You know, we’re supposed to have this, like consecration like ceremony. Like where, you know, you’re kind of blessed in your singleness. And where you are, and, and somebody is really kind of praying God’s blessings over you about that. And I think that would be a beautiful picture of the body of Christ coming together.
I mean, yeah, should we do that for you? No. Oh, you just got engaged. Let’s pray over you your gauge. Oh, you just got married? Let’s pray. Oh, your kids are like, Oh, you’re single. Let’s pray over you. I mean, like, and not enough. Oh, you’re single is crazy. But like, oh, you’re single like what is like what Jesus is inviting you into right now? Or let’s pray his blessing over where you are right now? Not not because it’s not a pity thing any more than I, you know, you just got hired let’s preview because they’re unique challenges in the Lord can use you in that state in a unique way. And he’s unique gifts for you just for you. right where you are. Wow, that’s that’s a that’s a unique idea. tastic idea. Wow.
Bob Ragan 11:53
You know, after all these years in ministry, seeing men and women come through regeneration. I think what it really boils down to is is the heart. You know, I’ve often said that, you know, God is not after your behaviors is after your heart, because once he has your heart, your behaviors will change. And so when I think of being consecrated unto the Lord, I’m thinking, I want my heart consecrated onto you, I, you know, I, Lord, what I love about God is that I don’t have to explain anything to him, that he knows my heart, he knows exactly what I’m feeling. He knows exactly where I am. He knows my circumstances. I don’t have to explain anything to him. And so there’s those times when I’m in the throes of deep emotion or deep challenge, and I could just say, God, here is my heart. I just give it to you. And I’m thinking, you know, that’s, that’s, that’s the deeper prayer. Lord, I want my heart consecrated unto you, That I would have undivided devotion to you. Which means no matter what happens in my life, I’m devoted to you that you know, I really believe this, Josh, that as Christians, there’s nothing secular in our lives. Everything is sacred. Yeah, everything is sacred. So God I want to have my life as a consecrate, it’s sacred devotion unto you that is complete. And for you to do that deeper work in my heart. So that’s, you know, I think that’s, that’s at the very core of my being that I want him to have my heart because while when he has my heart he has my most precious possession. Yeah.
And And the interesting thing like part of part of what I’m hearing is you guys talk about this idea of consecrating your singleness and whatever, whatever it comes with that the gifts of it, the pain of it, the loneliness of it, Lord, I give it I give you this loneliness and not not so that you’ll see me in a certain light and decide okay, you’ve passed the test. Here’s a bride or here’s a husband, but rather like whatever comes Lord, the the the ups the downs, where they remain single where they get married, I consecrate this journey to you. And maybe a day by day piece of it I consecrate absolutely, john Eldridge reminded listeners recently in a pocket heard about the importance of consecrating our sexuality to God to sexual desires to god it’s basically like all that I am is yours and I think that the beauty of it is not God’s not a tyrant who’s just kind of like saying, you know, loving enough like you gotta love me more. I can’t you know, quick keep squeezing the toothpaste tube until it’s all out of there like that’s that’s not what is his call is to married or singles. On our own it is it is yeah, I want all of you and why? Because I’m giving you all of me. And I think the the idea of consecration isn’t isn’t because God is like, like a miser or greedy for more. It’s because he he desires to give us more and so that our hands would be open To receive all that he
Bob Ragan 15:00
has of himself for us. See, I’m not single unto myself. I’m single unto the Lord. And that’s what it spilled out. Look, what’s the difference between those two? So in other words, it’s like, you know, the world doesn’t revolve around me. It rolls around my my beloved and and so I and there it is, my singleness is a gift that I have right now. Can I see my singleness as a gift and not a deficit. And if it is a gift, it’s a gift to others. And it’s a gift to God, when he gives on to me, I give back to him. When he gives up to me, I give back on to others. So that and there again, there’s that that bigger picture,
there’s that bigger picture, you know, and so, so distinct. so different. So countercultural than I think what most of us here regardless, absolutely,
Bob Ragan 15:53
yeah. You know, I’m not. Yeah, my, I’m not what the author and speaker Leon pay would call navel gazing, right? I’m not always looking down. But I’m able to look up and see what is happening around me. I’m able to look up and see this incredible universe and world that God has created. And recognizing though I’m so small on this, I’m still a vital part of it, that that, that I do it no matter what state I find myself married or single, that I am part of God’s divine plan of advancing his kingdom purposes. Yeah,
yeah. And I think I think here of where Paul says that we are individually, members of Christ. And that no part I’m paraphrasing here, no part of the body can say to another part, I have no need of you. And so let me let me as a married man, say to singles listening on behalf of the church, on behalf of married people in the church, I’m I am sorry, for the ways that we have seen you and thought, well, we don’t need you or you are lesser than the married folks in the church or you’re less mature or less, you’re not as far along. That’s just simply not true. Based on marital status. And so forgive us for that. We do need singles in the churches we need married in the church.
Bob Ragan 17:17
And as a single I asked forgiveness of the married couples that in my, in my stinking thinking in my chronic uniqueness that I judge you because you’re you’re not you’re not you’re not meeting my needs, exactly how I want them to be met. So I ask your forgiveness on behalf of singles to the way that the not only that I judge married couples and even the way I may judge the church, as well as forgiveness of the church, the way that I can stand back and in my cynicism and my bitterness, just point the finger and ignore the fact what’s happening in my own heart.
Yeah, it’s good. Thanks, Bob. Thanks. So all we’re saying today does not negate the things we’ve been talking about the last three podcasts that there is a hard road, there are ways that singles can experience temptation, loneliness, and other things in a way that’s acute in a different fashion than it is for married folks or people who are in families. There There are, are definitely challenges that Mary’s will walk through that are unique, just as there are challenges that married husbands or wives will experience that are that are unique, but we do need each other. And the bigger picture is that Christ is Christ’s body is at work here and we are all a part of Christ’s body. We are all individually growing more and more in his likeness. And together, we are growing more and more in his likeness, especially as we consecrate give over our lives where they are to the Lord in this journey. You guys, Kyle and Bob, thank you guys so much for just for sharing your own experiences us and his last several podcasts and bringing your expertise to you. I know you’ve walked with so many single men and women. If you are single, and you’re wrestling with certain things we’ve talked about, or you want to go deeper on some of these things, we just invite you to give us a call to email us. We’d love to walk with you and maybe play a role in it, and a portion of of your own journey. So as we wrap up, Kyle, would you disclose us in order to prepare for this series? Sure. Thanks.
Kyle Bowman 19:21
Lord, I just thank you for the opportunity to really talk about some heart issues that singles around the world face. And so Lord, I hope that we can remember that you have good gifts for us, and that we should come to you with open hands. We shouldn’t be close fisted in in saying no God, I want this. I want to keep this for myself, but that we can open our hands and allow you to place in them whatever you want. Help us to remember that we are to share in Christ’s sufferings and So sometimes this journey is going to include suffering. So Father, would you give us just a lavish with your grace in the midst of that, so that we can walk through those periods of suffering and know that they’re not in vain, but we are sharing something with you. And so Lord, I pray that, whether married or single, that those who hear this podcast will have something that they can take away that they can use that God that you will water, that seed and habit to grow. And we ask all this in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, amen.
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