Singles and the Church – Part 2

Dear BPCWA worshipper, In my last pastoral, I wrote about how singlehood is ordained by God. When we understand that singlehood is God’s gift, we must not only treasure it, but also see it as the means to better serve Him in church and use the life that He has given to us. Christians should not be influenced by the world to think that singles are worse off than the married, as if God has unfairly given some of His children the raw end of the deal if He has ordained them to singlehood. Ultimately, whether married or single, we are called to be Christ’s servants – for His use in a manner that He specifies as best for each individual. We all love gifts, but as someone wryly but yet very aptly said – singlehood is a gift that no one wants. If God has given you the gift of singlehood, joyfully and gratefully accept it as you would in receiving any gift. If God has given you the gift of marriage and parenthood, joyfully accept it too. Ultimately, I hope that through these pastorals, all Christians will understand that singles are an important part of God’s body and God’s grand design for His church. Additionally, there is a study on Christian Singlehood that is available on our church’s YouTube channel for anyone who is interested to know more on this subject.

Singles are a necessary part of the church on earth. Some singles wrongly feel that singlehood has no contribution to the church. Some feel that unless they are married and have children, they do not fit into God’s body. This cannot be further from the plan of God. For some reason, some believers in the Corinth church felt the same way about being different from what they felt they ought to be. Paul had to awaken them to realise how wrong they were, “And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?” (1 Cor 12:16-17). When God divides His gifts to every Christian in His church, they are “many members, yet but one body” (1 Cor 12:20). The diversity then is to have all the members work together for the sake of the body and to complement each other.  Singles are needed to complement areas that are unique, where families cannot fill. So how do I use this gift of singlehood?

Role of singles in the church. An example of this is at our Family Seminars. At these seminars, we do not want to take the married away from learning God’s Word at a seminar specially targeted for them. At the same time, we want to enable the parents to concentrate without having to mind their toddlers. Hence, we have consistently sought for the singles to be able to teach the toddlers at the concurrent children’s session. The unmarried is also able to “attend upon the Lord without distraction” (1 Cor 7:35). Talk to a parent especially with a young child, and they will share with you that they are constantly fighting against the distraction of care for their children! We are certainly not teaching that children are a burden and a trouble to attending to God’s things. They are a responsibility that the married must carry for the Lord. Undoubtedly, every parent must learn and find ways to train their children not be a distraction. So, this is a special privilege that a single has – to be able to sit fully in undistracted and attentive focus upon God, serve Him, praise Him, and learn His Word at every service and fellowship meeting. Parents, on the other hand, often have to revisit the lessons taught in church. Every Christian has a spiritual gift that they must use for the building up of Christ’s church. Those who are single have more liberty, without the cares and obligations that marriage brings, to be able to exercise these gifts to one another in a church setting with little encumbrances. During times when brethren experience bereavements, joblessness, sicknesses, or other trials that one comes across in life, the singles can readily avail themselves to exhort and show mercy (Rom 12:8) by consoling brethren going through difficulties. They can take leave from work and “be there” to give Christian support when needed. The church cannot depend on families in such situations as much as they can upon the singles to respond to help at last-minute notice. Singles are able to be prayerful, distribute to the necessity of saints, and be given to hospitality (Rom 12:12,13). At the same time, singles often hold jobs to support themselves. While the whole family is supported by the sole income of the father, singles have more disposable income to use for God’s work. So, the wise single must not squander these privileges that God gifts by using their “spare cash” to pander to themselves, on leisure and pleasure, treating themselves with more holidays and shopping. Sadly, this is often the way of the world. While China has a “Singles Day” which was celebrated on 11 November, the event is popularly celebrated as a shopping festival – a far cry from what God intended for singles!

Privileges of singlehood. “But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife.  There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband” (1 Cor 7:33-34). Singles are more able to give of their time and resources to God’s work regularly as well as for special projects. If singlehood is a gift, it also means that God does intend it to be used, but whether this gift is realised depends on the willingness and discipline of the individual. Finally, many singles can exercise their gifts of helps (1 Cor 12:28). If you are a wife, you are called to be a help to your husband as a priority as he serves God. But the single man and woman can help in so many ways around the church. There are duties around the church like being ushers, welcomers, and AV personnel. In addition, there may be other things around church that, timewise, are not as convenient – things that may need to be done outside of Sundays or the fellowship meeting nights. It may require you to regularly shop for things off-hours, or come down weekly to church to print or check stock or do some clean-up, or even to be able to serve weekly on regular administrative tasks from home. We have many singles who cheerfully do many needful things for God’s church behind the scenes, unseen and unknown to the people but known to God. Without their labour, we would be very wanting in these essential areas and the operation of the church will be hindered. I am not “relieving” the married from service.  Men especially must not slacken but rather be more zealous in their service, God having provided for them a wife to help relieve them of care of the house so that they can serve. But singles have a great deal more flexibility to be able to do many things regularly, without the care of family.

As a pastor, I am thankful that we have many singles who have stepped up to serve in such ways in the church. I am thankful that we have many who are family people who have stepped up to in many areas in church too. As I have said before and still believe very strongly, BPCWAians have a strong culture of service in many areas which full-time staff fill in other churches. This is God’s gift to His church – for us in BPCWA. As Paul rhetorically said regarding gifts “Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?” (1 Cor 12:29), the same principle applies – “are all married? are all singles?”. The answer is certainly “no”. “If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?” (1 Cor 12:17). God has given a diversity of gifts in His church for each to do a needed role for His body. God in His wisdom has given the different members in BPCWA different gifts. If God has given you the gift of singlehood, it is because there is a need that you can and must fill in BPCWA, for the advancement of His kingdom, for His work. This is your privilege, chosen for you before God saved you – do not disdain it, nor forgo it to live a life focussed on yourself. Just as the married must one day answer to whether they have fulfilled their roles as husbands, as wives, as fathers, and as mothers, singles too must give an account one day to God as to whether they have fulfilled their roles as singles in God’s church. Whether married or single, we are all part of His body and must live our lives with an aim of contributing to the building up His body in our respective callings.  Like we have also learnt in last Sunday’s message, “. . . in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death” (Phil 1:20)

1 Cor 12:18  But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. . .
22  Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:

Yours in our Lord’s service,