Reading Through The New Testament In 2016. Day 139. 1 Corinthians 7
Is it better to be single or married?
Cause, let me tell you. The church culture right now has a big proverbial neon sign up at every church that flashes “get married!”. There’s an underlying message to singles which says “what’s wrong with you?”
We have series on relationships and raising kids and so on, with a caveat to singles that says: just trust God and don’t worry you’ll get married. As if the main call of all christendom was to get married and have kids.
For example: Tell me now an Evangelical pastor that isn’t married? Is this really how it should be?
For Paul, he says he wishes everyone were like him: single. Not really talked about that much. Singleness is a status of life that can be full of joy, love, and God. It’s a status of fullness, not one that lacks anything.
You can tell in this chapter he’s trying to say his opinion knowing he’s a bit biased. At times he has to clarify: This isn’t the Lord speaking through me, this is just my opinion. (ha! Love it)
So, how do we read the chapter? Should we get married or be single?
Here’s what hit me reading this crazy chapter:
“The present form is passing away. I want you to be free from anxieties” (verse 31-32)
I think the point isn’t to debate which is better — married or not.
The point is to show up to the present moment without anxiety that you are missing something. It is about waking up to the fact that you are whole as you are right now.
Paul wants you to know that nothing in this moment is lacking as long as you are awake to the love of God.
Are you married? Great! Be present to God in it.
Are you single? Great! Be present to God in it.
He even goes so far to say: Are you a slave? Don’t work too hard to be free.
Yikes. Wait. What?
Here’s something I thought about: Paul knows what it is like to be a slave. He is a prisoner. Rather than seek to change his status as a prisoner he sought to find the purpose and joy of God while being a prisoner.
In other words, Paul has learned to find freedom in his heart no matter the status of life he is in. And in the end, that is a way more profound reality than searching for the status in life that will bring you the freedom you’re looking for.
Life is too short to not be present and enjoy the moment. Life is too short to be longing to be in a different place.
Life is too short to wish you were married.
Life is too short to wish you were single.
Life is about showing up right now to this moment and finding the joy in it.
I’ve been reading this book called “The Grace in Dying” written by a hospice nurse. She talks about how common it is for people to experience a transcendent peace in the moments before death. This happens because death forces us to awaken to what is important. Death makes us realize that what people think of us don’t matter. What mattered was showing up to your life with joy and gratitude.
Here’s the rub — don’t wait for death to force you to wake up to your life. You can wake up now.
Let’s go back to my favorite verse in this chapter:
For the present form of this world is passing away. I want you to be free from anxieties.
Wake up to what your life is right now and squeeze the joy, peace and love out of it. Don’t sit around dreaming about the next thing that will make you happy.
Never say: I’ll wake up to my life when I get married, or have kids.
Wake up now.
Never say: I’ll wake up to my life when I can get divorced. Or when my kids are out of the house.
Wake up now.
The life you always wanted is in fact the life you have right now.