July 22, 2018
READ: 1 Cor. 12:25-13:13
Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful and endures through every circumstance (v.7).
Nearly 40 percent of singles in a 2013 study described feeling isolated in their churches. One researcher concluded, “[Singles] . . . feel invisible and think about leaving.” That statistic doesn’t surprise me. As a single person, I’ve experienced feelings of isolation in churches composed primarily of couples who socialise primarily with other couples. I’ve also experienced awkward silences when I reveal I’m not dating, married or even actively seeking a spouse.
It can be easy for churches to embrace mainstream culture’s tendency to idolise romance while seeing friendships and community as optional, superficial and non-committal. In that worldview, singles can be excluded from being known and loved at a deep level, while couples can sometimes enter marriage with unrealistic expectations.
The apostle Paul described the church, not as a collection of couples and singles, but as an interdependent body meant to share joy and suffering together (1 Corinthians 12:25-26), where each person is uniquely gifted and needed for the good of the whole (vv.7,21-22). And when Paul described the “way of life that is best of all” (v.31), he didn’t describe marriage but the love the community of faith is called to embody (vv.12-13), a love that “never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful and endures through every circumstance” (13:7).
When believers deepen their experience of community and unity through the Spirit, we grow into a love deeper than our own individual needs, one where we’re invited into a calling much bigger than ourselves (12:4-6). And we also grow in our witness to the transforming power of Jesus’ love, the love that will last forever (13:13).
365-day plan: Mark 8:22-9:1
Read 1 Peter 4:8-10 and reflect on why it’s “most important of all” to grow deeper in our love for fellow believers.
How have you been tempted to look for fulfilment outside of the community of believers in Jesus? How might you build deeper connections in the body of Christ?