Have you ever thought about the fact that Jesus was single? My dear friend Jenni and I were talking last year before a wedding she was attending, and we were talking about how challenging it can be to attend a wedding alone, especially as you get older. But she said “If Jesus could go to a wedding by Himself, then so can I.” I love that perspective, and it got me thinking about what else we can learn from Jesus about being single. If Jesus is our model for living a holy and perfect life (not that we can ever be perfect this side of heaven, but that He is and showed us perfection), then it naturally follows that as Jesus was single His entire life, we can look to Him to learn what our lives as singles should look like.
As I read through the gospels looking for parallels to the single life, here are 5 things I discovered:
1. The goal of Jesus in every place and every situation was to be a blessing to those around Him. His focus was on them and meeting their needs, rather than on Himself and His own status or situation. The ease in which we get so caught up in ourselves and the frequency of our fixation on relational status is somewhat alarming. We are so quick to look inward instead of focusing outward. How different would our churches and communities look if those who are single were intent on being a blessing to those around them in every situation? What if we looked up and out, instead of always bemoaning our lack of a companion? What if we sought to serve generously, to give of our time and resources, to bless those around us as long as we are single?
2. Jesus intentionally surrounded Himself with community. In a culture of independence, isolation, and the detached relationships of social media, true community is becoming obsolete, especially among my generation. Jesus stands out as an example of one who entered into the lives of others and invited them into HIs own life as well. He built deep friendships with all kinds of people – men, women, married couples, the sick, tax-collectors, and prostitutes. He did not limit Himself to befriending only those who looked like Him or came from the same socio-economic or religious background. He loved all people, and actively pursued relationships with them.
3. Jesus did not squander His time, but used it wisely and with purpose. This does not mean He was always busy. Again, this does not mean that He was always busy. That bears repeating, because we often think the only way to use time “wisely” is to fill every moment with something important. We have plenty of examples of Jesus resting, going away to pray, sleeping on a boat, hanging out at wells chatting with people, eating dinner with friends, etc. He shows us what one person can do in a short amount of time. We have a plethora of opportunities and excuses to waste time in today’s culture, and Jesus shows us the importance and feasability of time well spent.
4. Jesus lived on-mission. Everything He did was on purpose, and His whole life led to the cross. Where is your life leading?
5. Finally, Jesus did not shrink back from hard situations. He went to weddings by himself, funerals of dear friends, large gatherings, and even the cross, all in joyful obedience to the Father. He saw the value in celebrations and goodbyes. He confronted false religion and heresy (as a sidenote, this goes back to the first point – even in His rebuke, it was for their ultimate good). He was willing to be ridiculed, shamed, and persecuted, because He knew that He spoke the truth. He walked through hard times trusting the Father to sustain Him.
If you are single, how can you start living more intentionally today, following Jesus’ model for us? If you are married, how can you be encouraging the single people in your life to live with purpose? How can we mutually enter into community and seek to be a blessing to one another?