Waturi and I celebrated four years of our marriage on the 1st of September. Over the course, we have had many young people ask us to give them relationship advice on single-hood. I thought it was about time I blogged about it. The entire blog is too long so I will divide it into three parts. I will name the three portions of advice as Master, Mission and Mate respectively. This inspiration comes from Ken Grave’s book: Master, Mission, Mate: A guide for Christian singles. So if you are as single as a mango seed, get yourself a good cup of tea and a good internet signal.
The Bible gives us a great picture of the first single man that ever existed- his name was Adam. Adam came before Eve. Then Adam met Eve. We can draw a few lessons about how to thrive in our single-hood by studying single Adam in Genesis.
‘The LORD God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it.” Genesis 2:15 (NLT)
A single person is complete as an individual
In Genesis chapter 2 we see the creation of Adam as a human being was a complete job. Before the woman is added to his company, Adam has a life to live with God-given responsibilities. God does not put his life on hold as he waits for Eve to come into the picture. Your single-hood, Beloved, is not merely a transit point to a relationship. It is a thriving point for your individual life. Before Eve comes into the scene we can see three things to be true of single Adam. We can see that he has a master, he has a mission and he needs a mate. This is the master-mission-mate model by Ken Graves in his guide for Christian singles.
Ken Graves puts it like this:
Ideally, here’s how it should work. You come to God. You make Him your Lord and your King—your Master. You accept the invitation to take up your cross and follow Him. And the longer the walk behind Him and with Him, the more you begin to understand how He views you, how He feels about you.
If the Lord Jesus Christ is your Master, then He will determine your mission. At some point, as you draw closer to Him, He begins to reveal to you the plan He’s laid out for your life. Part of that mission includes being conformed into His image, into His likeness, but there’s another part that is unique to you. The Lord will direct you to that thing you’re intended to do with your life. He’ll open your eyes to the things you’ve been gifted to do and help you navigate the choices you’ll make about your occupation and how you might serve Him vocationally.
Then—and only then—you begin to seek a mate who can help you fulfill that purpose. It’s vital that you have some understanding of who you are before you go out looking for someone to match up with you. If you don’t know who you are, you’re not going to have any clue who you’re looking for, or at least who you’re hoping for. That’s not so hard, is it? (2006:12)
So today, we will look at Master:
Master: who is your King?
Adam understood clearly that he was the created by God. He knew that God was the Alpha and the Omega. It is upon this understanding that he is even able to execute the commands he receives concerning taking care of Eden. He realises he is a steward with a master. Adam’s understanding of his origin is characterized by having a relationship with God. Only in having a relationship with God will Adam understand his Master. He will know his voice. The single person ought to cultivate their walk with God so deeply that it defines who they are-his identity. This way, someone of the opposite sex, no matter how breath-taking will not dissuade them from their devotion to their Creator. Any relationship that pulls you away from God is a distraction. So as a single person, ask yourself: Do you know your master?
Anyone who invests to understand their origin will also not be swayed and disarmed by circumstantial pain in life. They will accept all as filtered by the Creator and appreciate the common treasures that fellow humans easily take for granted, including a romantic relationship with the opposite sex. Are you in a personal relationship with your Creator? Are you conscious of your origin? God is a Holy God and humanity is sinful. Because of sin we cannot know our master. However, God bridged this gap by having his Son, Jesus die on the cross for the sins of humanity. Because of that, a personal relationship with God is possible. Knowing our Master like Adam knew his is a reality. A relationship with God, through his Son Jesus, is imperative, because he is our origin. The world wants good relationships but does not want God. To divorce God from the relationship process is suicide. We came from God. We will return to God. The biggest asset you can bring into a relationship as a single person is a thriving walk with God through Christ.
Some people at this point may think that having God as your master means simply believing that he exists. That’s the worst mistake you can make about this. Psalm 14:1a says “The fool has said in his heart there is no God.” (NASB). When we see this verse we immediately think of atheists who say there is no God. We even claim to see the foolishness in their denial of a God. The complexity of the human body, the change in weather seasons, the beauty of nature and so many things paint the picture of a Supreme being who made it all happen. If it’s an accident then it’s a pretty detailed, accurate and intelligent accident. But we know we are more than an accident. But perhaps Psalm 14:1 is not just referring to intellectually saying there is no God. Perhaps verse one also has moral weight for the one who believes in a God. There are people who believe that God exists but they live their lives like he doesn’t exist. And I believe they too qualify to be called fools. Psalm 14 says “in their heart”. So this is someone whose beliefs are within them.
There are theists who may hold this belief when it comes to their moral life. The prayer of the atheist on his death bed may be “If there is a God, please save my soul, if I have one.” But the believer knows he or she has a soul but at times lives the opposite. When we refuse to surrender our money to God we become financial atheists and for that we are fools. When we refuse to submit our sexuality to God we become sexual atheists and for that we are fools. So Psalm 14 verse 1 is a challenge not just to belief in God but to surrender as well. For God to be your master, you must surrender to him fully, Beloved. He must be your King! He must be Lord of all or he is not Lord at all!
But many single people do not trust God as their master! We know they don’t trust Jesus as their master because they say things like:
“What if I don’t get a spouse who is good in bed?”
“What if God doesn’t want me to be married?”
“What if I die without having sex?”
All these statements are rooted in fear. Many unbelievers voice these thoughts. The follower of Christ should not share the same worries as the world. Of course we can simply respond to those questions quickly, like this:
“Good sex is based on intimacy and purity and not experience.”
“If you desire to be married, God wants you to be married.”
“Nobody has ever died from not having sex- not even admitted in hospital.”
However these pat answers don’t address the single person’s deeper problem. The deeper problem is that the single person doesn’t trust the Master like Adam did. The single person here has a selfish mindset that a relationship with the opposite sex is a shopping spree. They constantly ask, “What can the other person do for me?” They start dating and call it an open-relationship because they don’t want to commit lest they be disappointed. They get married and sign pre-nuptial agreements “just in case something goes wrong.” It is all fear. The mindset of God in relationships is giving. The Christian’s concern in a relationship is not “what can the other person do for me?” Rather, it is, “What can I do for the other person?” The former is selfish. The latter is selfless. The former leads to heartbreak; the latter offers grace.
The single men and women in the world are looking for “the one.” But you, Beloved, sealed with the Holy Spirit, God wants you to BE “the one.” The world says they are having sex outside marriage to test-drive and see if “the car is okay.” They move in together before marriage in the name of “Let’s test and see if this works.” As a result, people in these kinds of relationships constantly have to advertise and to keep up so that they remain in the market. Why? Because their partners are intrinsically saying, “If you don’t keep up to standard, I’m gone.” In such a relationship you constantly have to advertise yourself to maintain your happiness. In God’s plan, you commit and there is no fear because the other person is committed to God too. The world’s first concern is “What if I get burnt in this relationship? I need to take care and place security measures.” God’s people’s first concern is, “How do I take care of this person who is God’s gift to me?” The world says alarms are put to protect the house from burglars. God says a human being is a person and not a house and you cannot treat a subject like you would an object. We fear we will miss out if we do things God’s way. We fear having Christ as a Master because of three main reasons.
Reason one: We think that God is not benevolent
The first reason we don’t trust Jesus as our master is because we think his plans are out to harm us. It is a lie from hell. When I was single, there resided in me a sinful thought that God would send me to a remote tribe in West Africa to live a difficult and horrible life as a missionary if I surrendered to him like Adam did. It is a fear that the Monarch we give the throne to is a dictator. That God is a tyrant who will not get us a husband- so we “liberate” ourselves to have sex lest we miss out. That God is a tyrant who wants us to die poor, so my money is my money and mine alone. In all this, we doubt the benevolence of Jesus on the throne, Beloved. But you need to realize that if Christ was that dictator who pushes his will down our throats, he would have done it a long time ago. Dictators do not wait patiently to be accorded their respect; they take it. Christ forces his way on no man. Dictators don’t allow to be placed on the side-lines; they conquer their way to the throne. Yet, the conquest of Christ is through benevolence. As the famous Napoleon Bonaparte once said, “I know men, and I tell you that Jesus Christ is not a man. Superficial minds see a resemblance between Christ and the founders of empires and the gods of other religions. That resemblance does not exist… Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I have founded empires. But on what did we rest the creations of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded his empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men would die for him.” If a man of war could sense the benevolence of Christ, why would we doubt it? Single man or woman, submit to Jesus fully. Let him write the story and discover that his plans are for good and not for evil (Jeremiah 29:11).
Reason two: We want control
The second reason we don’t trust Jesus as our master is because we don’t want to relinquish control of our lives. I can tell you this: For the many times, I have put Jesus on the bench, the lessons have been painful and hard. A Christian who refuses to surrender to the Lordship of Christ is a proud Christian. They think they know how their life should run. Christ becomes a consultant and an advisor and ceases to be a Saviour. And like every proud heart, disaster is just a matter of time. Do you think you know better concerning your sexuality, your money and your relationships? If so, you have a huge wall of pride that will only come down with the sledgehammers of confession and humility. Last I checked, the Creator knew the created better than the created knew himself or herself. I have also surrendered to the Lordship of Christ severally and I could tell you lots of stories of how the best parts of my life have come out of them. The single believer who desires it must be willing to lose control and leave it to Christ. It is a scary thought to lose control. However, if I’ve learnt anything, when you lose your life, only then do you find it. Surrender is a good thing. Surrender today, Beloved.
Reason three: We don’t understand the gospel
The third reason we don’t trust Jesus as our master is because we don’t understand the gospel. It was once bizarre, but now very common to hear, “Get born again and Jesus will get you a husband.” Or “Get born again and you will heal very quickly from your break-up.” Or “Get saved and God will take away all your marriage problems.” Present-day Christendom has been filled with a barter-trade gospel message that suggests God is trading his unlimited riches for all our circumstantial pain. We bow, he gives. He gives, we bow. It has reduced God to a vending machine where we insert the coin of pain and expect God to release the candy of blessings. Post-modernists are now coming to a realization that that is not the God of the Bible. And if He is the God of the Bible, post modernists have concluded that the vending machine is broken (God is dead). Some even believe that God owes us for the pain we experience on this earth. The single post-modernist who believes that sounds like this, “I am giving God one more chance, then I’m done.” Or “God had his chance, now it’s my way.” In short they say that either God’s arm is too short to save or his ears are too dulled with wax to hear. While I am cognizant of the role of painful moments in bringing people close to God, I have to point out that the Gospel of Salvation has been greatly misunderstood by many post-modernists. You can look around and see for yourself. When a friend decided to “take the Jesus thing seriously,” he/she was asked, “What went wrong?” Did your relationship end that badly? What was so bad that you needed God’s help? To pop-culture, salvation is a failsafe to deal with those troublesome areas that you can’t handle on your own. For them, God is the big butler in the sky for those that do things the churchy way. Or in short, it is what I call the barter-trade gospel. What they don’t know is that nothing could be farther from Jesus’ plan for mankind’s salvation. The salvation of Jesus has bigger things to offer than the wife you want, the husband you desire or the money you need. Don’t get me wrong. Money, a husband, a wife and all those things are good things- even in God’s eyes. God wants them for us. However, when those things become the core of our existence, a huge problem develops. They become idols. When good things become ultimate things, they become idols, Beloved. Meredith MacInnis, a Facebook friend of mine from Canada, commented on one of my Facebook posts. In her comment she said, “We all have this longing for solid and healthy marriages deep down because we are made in the image of God, and he wants that for us.” Her statement struck me! How profound! How true! The yearn for good marriages comes from our design- the image of God. And since that is true, it only makes sense that the ultimate love doctor is God Almighty. If we get God, we get his blessings as well. But to want God’s blessings without wanting God is a tragedy. We must be careful not be like the crowd in John chapter 6.
In John 6, the crowd follows Jesus because they want the miracles and the food that he was giving. Jesus knows that they don’t want his teaching, his word or anything to do with eternity; they only want food. In fact they even try to make him King when he multiplies the food for them. In truth, they don’t want him as their King; they want him as their butler who will multiply five loaves and two fish whenever they are hungry. They want his stuff not his presence. Jesus flees from them and refuses their Kingship offer. Why? When Jesus is King, he just doesn’t want the title, Beloved, he wants the crown and the throne too. In John 6, Jesus offers the people eternal life (the bread of life), but the people are only concerned about physical bread to eat for their stomachs. The focus of the crowd was the hunger pain in their stomachs and it came in the way of God’s salvation. Did Jesus care about the hunger pain? If he didn’t care would he have fed them with the 5 loaves and 2 fish to start with? He does care; however, he will not allow himself to keep being King over a man’s short terms needs if it hinders them from experiencing long term eternal benefits. Jesus is not a friend with benefits. He is not a utilitarian deity. He is a Saviour! He is a King! The question is: Is he your Saviour and King?