We are doing a three-part series on thriving in your single-hood. Our inspiration comes from Ken Grave’s book, Master, Mission, Mate: A guide for Christian singles. We are studying the first single man i.e. Adam. He gives us a picture of the transition from single-hood to marriage with God at the centre of it. Adam had God as his Master, then God gave him a mission, which led to his mate, Eve. If you haven’t read Part One, please read it first here.
So today, we will look at Mission:
‘The LORD God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it.” Genesis 2:15 (NLT)
In this scripture we see that Adam has work to do. Remember that he is still single. He is commanded by God to tend the garden and watch over it. Adam had a purpose that was to be fulfilled through working. Every single person should be working and fulfilling their God-given purpose as they wait for a lifetime relationship with the opposite sex. God knows your need for a relationship even before you realise. This can be proved by looking at Genesis 2:18-22
Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” So the LORD God formed from the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would call them, and the man chose a name for each one. He gave names to all the livestock, all the birds of the sky, and all the wild animals. But still there was no helper just right for him. So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep. While the man slept, the LORD God took out one of the man’s ribs and closed up the opening. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib, and he brought her to the man. (NLT)
The LORD realises Adam’s need for Eve and what does he do? Send him to an online dating site? No! He gives him more purpose. He burdens him with more purpose. He was told to tend the garden. Now he is told to name the animals. After Adam named the animals, he was on course to receive Eve. Only when Adam was on board God’s mission for him was he nearing the possibility of a lifetime with the woman of his dreams. We can imagine that the animal naming made him realise that there was an issue. There was Mr. and Mrs. Hippo, Mr. and Mrs. Elephant, Mr. and Mrs. Beetle but no Mr. and Mrs. Adam. God orchestrates for Eve to come into Adam’s life at the peak of Adam’s pursuit of God’s command. And so we ask you, single person, are you on your Master’s mission?
Don’t do something about your single-hood; do something with it
A post-modern tragedy of our time among single people is not only not having God as their master but also living an empty life. In our ministry we see a number of people just waiting to get married! They are so anxious as if it is a train they will miss if they don’t position themselves well. So the guys show off lifestyles they can’t afford. The ladies expose some luscious body parts to get some male-attention. They get onto multiple dating sites. They attend every party they are invited to. And they almost get depressed when things are not working out. All these people are preoccupied with doing something about their single-hood instead of doing something WITH it. These same people imagine that once they get into a relationship, they will be complete. It’s a bad move, Beloved. Each person will give an account to God for their lives. What has God placed you on earth to do? Men especially need to know that purpose is one of the things that arouses a woman. A man pursuing a purpose will always win the heart of a woman. And women should not just be seated on the side-lines waiting for a man with a purpose. God has made us in his image, both men and women. There is purpose for the woman to pursue as well as a single person. A man or woman devoid of purpose will always fail to launch and constantly give excuses why a task was never done. They will keep wandering in a miasma of peer pressure- constantly bowing down to the demands of the latest trends- including getting into a premature relationship. A person of purpose is steadfast. They may not have everything together, but they are headed in a godly direction. Purpose is not about perfection, but about vision and direction. We believe that Adam qualified for a mate because he went on God’s mission. A lack of purpose disqualifies you from enjoying the beginning of a great relationship with the opposite sex.
But what does purpose/mission look like?
I believe purpose is twofold for the believer. First, what God has specifically and uniquely called you to do. It may be in business or in art or in counselling. Seek God to discover it. Secondly, purpose is universal based on the command of Jesus. He put it clearly for us in Matthew 28:18-20:
“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (NIV, 1984)
Notice that Jesus begins by saying that all authority is His. This is before he commissions them. He is talking to his disciples. There is an assumption that Jesus is their master. Master comes before the mission. Then he dishes out the mission. What is the mission? To make disciples! To walk with new converts and bring them to maturity. To do exactly what Jesus did with the 12. Howard Hendricks says, “The Christian life is the life of Christ reproduced in the believer by the power of the Holy Spirit. Therefore master the Master’s life.” What is the mission, you ask? The Mission is to master the Master’s life and replicate it in the lives of others! That’s what a single believer (as any other believer) ought to be preoccupied about as they anticipate a romantic relationship with the opposite sex.
Are you doing this, Beloved? There is work to do! Adam was fulfilling his Master’s mission. Are you, like Adam, about God’s mission in your singlehood? Ladies, are you discipling and walking with a group of younger ladies? Gentlemen, are you discipling and walking with younger men? My wife and I believe that every believer should pour out their life and the truths of scripture to those younger than they are or new in the faith. We believe that discipleship is the best pursuit of purpose. Discipleship is not a 10-week course done in a church. Discipleship is a life-long journey. It is frustrating, tiresome and very slow but the rewards are out of this world (literally). Getting married does not stop us from pursuing this purpose either. I disciple a group of men that I meet every fortnight on Thursdays. My wife disciples a group of young ladies every fortnight on Saturdays. The ladies meet at our house for breakfast twice a month. Together, we disciple a group of couples pursuing marriage. The single person should be about God’s business and God will be about the single person’s business, just like he was with Adam.
But what hinders us from pursuing the mission God has called us to?
Reason #1 We don’t invest in our purpose
One reason we don’t pursue the mission of God is that we don’t invest in the purpose God has called us to. I get amazed how many people in our generation can sit for six hours straight watching a TV series. While relaxation is important, we must be honest with ourselves when the TV series viewing is several hours a day almost every day. There are gifts and abilities that God has put in us waiting to be unearthed. But how can I perfect my guitar skills when I am not even committed to practice? How can I begin that blog when I cannot commit to reading? When will I start my 10,000 hours? Christ only needed three years on earth to fulfill his mission because he invested well. We have a generation that will strike 40 and still wonder, “What has God called me to do?” You must realize that when you are burning with passion on a mission, you want to spend the rest of your life with someone who is accelerated in the same direction.
Reason #2 We have made marriage an end-goal
A second reason we don’t pursue the mission of God is that we have made marriage an end goal. We see marriage as a destination instead of seeing it as the start of a journey. We have made marriage a finish line instead of seeing it as a mission field. Our generation seems to love weddings more than marriages. And because we don’t see marriage as a mission, we invest more in the flowers of the wedding than the pre-marital counseling. So you get married. Then what? God doesn’t just call us to get married, have kids then die. Nay! He asks that our marriages be set on fire on a mission to demonstrate the gospel. Our ultimate life reward is not “I do” but “Well done.” The latter can be propelled by the former. Ephesians 5:24-25 says “Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” A thriving marriage between a man and women submitted to God is one of the most vivid signs of the Gospel of Jesus. This should be the goal of every newlywed couple in the Church. We should even place those in the vows of believers, “I promise to make the gospel the mission of our marriage.” If you do not see marriage as a mission, you will settle for anyone. God wants you to realise that choosing the love of your life should not be on the basis of eye candy but on the basis of soul food.
Reason #3 We don’t understand the gravity of the mission God calls us to
A third reason we don’t pursue the mission of God is that we don’t understand the gravity of the mission we are assigned. When Abraham met God in Genesis 17:1, he turned into a man on a mission. When Moses met God in Exodus 3, he turned into a man on a mission. When Isaiah met God in Isaiah 6, he went into mission. He cried out, “Here I am; send me!” The scriptures are freckled with so many examples of people who encounter God and go into mission. Some left everything to follow God. They understood that the mission was important. A genuine encounter with God will translate into mission. Mission at your school. Mission at your work. Mission in your business. Mission is the inevitable result of meeting God. And it is a big deal because he is inviting you to partner with him for the salvation of human souls. This means letting Christ be seen in the work he has called us to do by doing it well. Martin Luther once said, “The Christian shoemaker does his duty not by putting little crosses on the shoes, but by making good shoes.” The world ought to marvel at Christ in you and desire it. That’s mission. And it is very important. Mission was the last call of Jesus before he left. It should be our first priority. Jesus went up; the Holy Spirit came down; you should go out.
Reason #4 We are building our own empires
A fourth reason we don’t pursue the mission of God is that we are pre-occupied with building our own empires. All human empires will ultimately be castles in the sand. When we live to make a name for ourselves instead of making an impact in this world for the LORD, we can get carried off in the love of money, the deceitfulness of wealth and the cares of this world. And if we get there we can be sure we will attract the wrong mates. I get many people who ask me, “Ernest how come I attract the wrong people?” I tell them to get on the right mission track. Only people who care for the things of God will stick to its path. It will repel all the wrong ones. Start a date by saying “no sex until marriage” and just see how many people will run off the path. Our mission should focus us on the Maker and not ourselves. We ought to fix our eyes on Jesus in our single-hood as we do his will. My wife and I put it like this: run so fast towards God, if anyone catches up, introduce yourself. If you understand that the Kingdom of God is infinitely larger than all the multi-billion-dollar companies on earth, you will realize that it is important to marry someone who cares about advancing the gospel more than advancing their career. If you understand the gravity of the mission you will realize that it is important to marry someone who cares about winning souls more than winning the lottery. If you understand that his will is more important that our feelings you will realize that it is important to marry someone who cares about being a good witness of the gospel more than being a good lawyer of their sins. If you understand true success, you will realize that it is important to marry someone who cares about the return of Christ more than the returns of their hard work. And God is eagerly waiting to reward those that participate in his Kingdom mission.
Reason #5 We don’t see Christ in mission
The final reason we don’t pursue the mission of God is that we have taken our eyes off the gospel. We don’t Christ in mission. His death has become cliché for many. Christ came on earth and began a restoration process that seemed impossible since Genesis 3. His mission on earth resulted in his death and it ended the spiritual single-hood we were in. He laid his life for us. That sacrifice should compel us to do anything for him. He proposed to us when he died on that cross. If we accept him, we join an eternal spiritual marriage. I pray we never lose sight of Christ in mission. A faithful God gave Christ his bride while in mission. A faithful God can do the same for us in our single-hood.