First Love Intro: Summit, at all campuses, we are launching on a 6-­-week series today called First Love: Building Gospel-­-Centered Relationships.

The one area that provides the most joy and the most heartache in our lives is relationships-and that’s true whether you are single or married.

Our whole study is going to come out of Ephesians 5:21-32, so you’ll want to get a Bible and follow along each week.

(If you don’t have a Bible, we have on at the FTG tent: our gift to you.)

The title is First Love, and we’re going to be considering a lot of things relating to romance and marriage-but this is not exactly a marriage series. We’re going to learn principles about ourselves that apply to all relationships, only one of which is marriage. You see, here’s what I’ve found: there are no married people issues; there are individual people issues that get worse in marriage.

Marriage doesn’t really create problems; it just reveals them. (Some of you don’t want to admit that, but it’s true-the majority of marriage problems are relatively minor (what en to squeeze the toothpaste from or whether to make the bed in the morning); what makes these issues major are problems in us that would be there if we were married or single.) Marriage is the arena in which little problems magnify the larger problem in our hearts.

So regardless of whether you’re single; single and content; single and seeking; engaged; happily married; unhappily married; single again; hoping soon to be single again-this series will have a lot in it for you.

Week 1: (Today) We’re going to ask the question, ”What are you looking for?” when you yearn for love and romance, and we’re going to deal with our expectations in marriage… and what God’s plan is for singleness. 65%! Week 2: We’re going to look at one, huge principle, which, if we got it-this one principle, I’m going to give you one question we could ask-which would fundamentally change al of our relationships, including marriage. Week 3 will be all about principles of communication. I had dinner with one of our elders the other night… Week 4: We’re going to look at conflict and forgiveness. I’ve got some great recent stories about how Veronica has really wronged me and how I’ve forgiven her and I’ll share those with you. Week 5: I’m going to talk about principles of decision-­-making in relationships. Week 6: We’ll tie them all together and talk about building intimacy.

(I’m trying to encourage my wife to join me up here for some of this, but she’s being really stubborn and hard-­-hearted about it. Maybe if you gave her a little encouragement she might?)

One last thing: Online helps

Ephesians 5:31-32: This Light and Momentary Marriage

(We’ll start at end where Paul sums up his teaching on marriage)

31 ”Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. Paul explains that marriage was given to us as a sign of something. Marriage was not an end unto itself. God created it to point to a higher reality-Christ’s relationship to his church. C. S. Lewis described marriage like a ray of sunshine… the sun has millions of rays; marriage is only one of them, and the ray should never, in our hearts, replace the thing that it points us to.

#1… (this is pretty deep, and radical-must get this!)

Marriage is not ultimate; it is a sign and shadow of a higher reality.

Christ is the source of all love and joy-the love you were created for is not the love of another human being; it’s in his love.

And the church is the ultimate, eternal family. According to Scripture, relationships in Christ are more permanent, and more precious, than relationships in families.

Will you let me blow your mind for a minute? It’s going to sound like I’m dogging on marriage, but hang with me.

”In the resurrection,” Jesus said, ”they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven” (Matthew 22:30). In heaven, I will not be married to my wife. I’m not sure what it’s like, but it will not be like the relationship we have here. What’s that going to be like-when I see her will I give her a wink? I’m tempted to let that make me sad, but I know that whatever God has for us there will be better than here. If anything, we’ll be closer there than here. I don’t know how that works. But the point is that marriage is not eternal or ultimate. Matthew 12: ”And when his own mother and brothers asked to see him, Jesus said, ”’Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?’ And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers!”’ (Matthew 12:48-­- 49). Wow. John Piper (who preached here a couple of weeks ago) says this about this verse: ”Jesus is turning everything around. Yes, he loved his mother and his brothers. But those are only temporary relationships. His focus was on those whom he called out for himself. He was calling out a new family where single people in Christ (or people not really in families) are full-­- fledged family members on a par with all others, bearing fruit fo God and becoming mothers and fathers of the eternal kind.” 1 His mother and brothers are those who obey his word! Luke 11: While Jesus was speaking to a group, a woman yelled out (people who yell when preachers are talking): ”Blessed are the paps which gave you suck!” And he turned and said, ”Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:27). Wow: Those who obey the word of God are more blessed than the mother of God. Mark 10, Jesus said, ”Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life” (Mark 10:29-­- 30). He is saying: We must renounce the primacy of our natural relationships and follow Jesus into the fellowship of the people of God, whether we are single or married. Take a deep breath and reorder your world.

John Piper: ”Marriage is temporary; and it will finally give way to the relationship to which it was pointing all along: Christ and the church-the way a picture is no longer needed when you see face to face.”2

Marriage only gives you a sign and foretaste of the future kingdom of God.3

I don’t want to dismiss the importance of the sign. It’s one of the very best of God’s good gifts to us, and an indispensable part of the created order.

But-listen, and this is crucial-life goes wrong when you make the symbol ultimate.

Think that marriage, or good romance, is the one indispensable ke to being happy, and you feel like you couldn’t live without it.

This is the most widely accepted myth in our culture-the most widely worshipped false god-we think romantic love ”completes us.” Yes, many of you just thought of the heart-­-touching scene in Jerry Maguire were Tom Cruise looks at Renee Zelwegger and says, ”You complete me.” That’s how we see it. I am incomplet until you love me, and I’m everything I am because you love me. Cue Celine Dion. You can hear it in our songs. Now when I think of illustrations of this, I think back to my high school days. I’m a child of the 80’s; everyone knows music reached its pinnacle back then…

You know our love was meant to be; the kind of love that lasts forever. And I want you here with me from tonight; from tonight until the end of time. You should know; everywhere I go; You’re always on my mind; in my heart; in my soul.

You’re the meaning in my life; you’re the inspiration. You bring feeling to my life… Wanna have you near me; I wanna have you hear me sayin’: No one needs you more than I need you.4

I was reading an interview with Matt Dillon recently in which he said most Hollywood people are relationship junkies, and I thought ”That’s pretty good. Relationship junky: you get a high off of a relationship like a drug so you go from one to the next.” I think Kesha has a song that literally says that: ”Your love, your love, your love is my drug.” It lasts about 18 mos, which is how long most psychologists say an infatuation takes to wear off. Then you need a new hit.

But like all drugs, it doesn’t work. You weren’t created to be ”completed” by the love of another human being; you were created to be completed by the love of Christ. Here’s what I’ve told you before: Lonely, insecure, unhappy single people become lonely, insecure, unhappy married people. The drug of a new relationship fixes it for a short time, but then it wears off and leaves you craving more. Problems like loneliness, insecurity, and unhappiness are not cured by another human’s companionship… they are cured by the love of Christ.

Gary Thomas: ”Marriage doesn’t solve emptiness; it exposes it… If someone can’t live without you, he or she will never be happy living with you either.”5 We weren’t designed to meet the deep soul needs of another human being. Ever seen those signs before a bridge? If I could get away with it in marriage, put a sign on the forehead: Can not satisfy the needs of your soul! Life goes wrong when something God intended to point you to him starts to compete with him in your heart. So, Thomas’ counsel: marry someone with a solid core, who doesn’t depend on you for those things. Who is happy in Jesus.

Here’s a second way:

We have this assumption that the man or woman who does not leave a permanent family has left no real mark on the world-they are incomplete- they die alone and insignificant. Now, you guys know me, I’m into family. But according to Scripture, ultimate family is not biological; it’s ecclesiological. It’s not produced by procreation, but by regeneration. Disciples of Jesus are the offspring that endure forever. Thus, a life that does not produce biological offspring is not a failed life; a life that does not make disciples of Jesus is a failed life. Of course, it’s great when your natural family are also part of the permanent, eternal family, and my wife is my first pastoral responsibility, and my kids is first mission field. But my biological family is just temporary. The church is eternal.

So, you would never say to someone, in an ultimate sense, ”You complete me.” No, Christ and the church complete you. A gift of God, no matter how good, should never replace in your heart the thing it symbolizes.

Here is my question: Could you be single your whole life and not feel devastated? If not, it’s probably an idol. (And I don’t mean if you desire it, even strongly, it’s an idol, just that you feel like without it you could never be happy and life would hardly be worth living.)

Let’s leave there and go to 1 Cor 7. Paul uses this concept to counsel his church in Corinth, which seems to have had a lot of single people in it.

Corinth was a fast growing city… RDU got ranked this week by Forbes as the #1 fastest growing city in America! Many singles!

1 Corinthians 7:1-40

(I’m going to read sporadic verses in this chapter. In your small groups, you’ll be studying this whole passage):

1 Cor 7:7 (Regarding marriage) I wish that all were as I myself am. (What was Paul? Single) But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.

Singleness is not an inferior state to marriage.

Christianity’s founder, Jesus, and its lead theologian, St. Paul, were both single their entire lives.6

Single people get a raw deal sometimes. Married people are always trying to fix them up as if there was something wrong with them. My best friend Bruce says he got so sick of the little old ladies at his church who would say to him at each wedding, ”Don’t worry, Bruce. You’re next.” He finally got them to shut up by saying to them at funerals, ”You’re next.”

But Paul says that there are some real privileges to being single. I’ll talk about some of them in a minute, but let me just acknowledge that sometimes in the church we talk as if marriage was a superior state and if you’re single it’s because you’re not ready for marriage yet.

That’s not true: some of the most messed up, immature people I know are married-if marriage is conditional on becoming the right kind of person, God definitely got the wrong blessing address? But we think that, so we say super-­-spiritual but ridiculous things like (from Tim Keller): ”As soon as you’re satisfied in God alone, he’ll bring someone special into your life.” As if we earn God’s blessings by achieving a spiritual Jedi state. ”The reason you are single is because you’re too picky.” As though God is frustrated by our narrow parameters and needs us to broaden them so he can bless us. (For some of you, you are too picky, but that’s not entirely why you are single). ”Before you can marry someone wonderful, you must become someone wonderful.” As though God grants marriage as a second blessing to the satisfactorily sanctified.

Tim Keller says, ”Under all these statements is the premise that a single life is (a 2nd class life) a state of deprivation for people not yet fully formed for marriage.”7

But that’s not true. Because marriage is not ultimate.

Look at what Paul says in vs. 29 The appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none… Now what does that verse mean? This is like the favorite verse of people going to Vegas: ”Let those who have wives lives as though they had none!” That would contradict everything else Paul has said!

30 For the present form of this world is passing away. This world is passing away! And along with it marriage and biological families. So you married people should reflect on the fact that your marriage is not ultimate or permanent. And you single people should reflect on the fact that your situation is not permanent either. Both situations are light and momentary, and soon they wil give way to what is permanent and ultimate: Christ and the church.

Which leads me to #3…

Both marriage and singleness are temporary gifts God uses for the fulfillment of his purposes

1 Cor 7:7 But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another. Notice: both marriage and singleness in this verse are called ”gifts.” The word he uses there for ”gift” is charisma which literally means ”spiritual empowerment” (or, a spiritual gift) that God gives you for the accomplishing of his purposes in your life. It might be temporary: a special empowerment for a specific time in your life. For others, it might be a calling that lasts your whole life.

Listen-you may not see this yet, but singleness is a gift: Maybe God has a special assignment for you that you can onl accomplish if you are single. Or something you need to complete (like your education or military assignment) and you can’t do it when you’re married. Or maybe there are some character things he can only teach you when you’re single. Or maybe you are supposed to demonstrate to your unsaved friends that happiness and contentment is not found in romance, but in God, and you can only do that during this time as someone single. Singleness is a gift.

Marriage is also a gift that God gives to some. I used to read Paul’s words there (”I wish you all were like I am, because singleness frees you up for a lot more in the kingdom of God”) and assume that meant that singleness was always superior to marriage, like singleness was Varsity and being married makes you JV, and if you really loved Jesus you wouldn’t want to get married. So I’d feel guilty asking for a wife. But that’s not true either. Look again at vs. 7: ”each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.” (it’s not yours to decide, but God’s to give!) Remember it was God who said, ”It is not good that man should be alone”-Marriage was a gift he came up to help the man. Why? Because men do things like wear white socks with black pants. Because men don’t understand the need for furniture. Most guys, their dream pad includes a waterbed, a black leather couch and a TV with a PS3 and surround sound, and that’s it. When a guy moves, it takes one buddy, a Ford Mustang a few bungee cords and 15 minutes. So God made woman to come along and fix all that. On a more serious note, marriage is a gift that teaches you about the love of God. It’s a ray of the sun. It is how God meets some of your desires for companionship, affection, affirmation, and security. And, as I’ll explain more in this series, marriage has taught me more about the gospel than anything else: more than I learned in seminary. In seminary I learned the doctrines; I experienced them in marriage. My need of grace; how to show grace.

And, of course, it’s the arena he’s created for the enjoyment of sexual intimacy and the propagation of the human race. (crude)? 7:2 Because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.

Both singleness and marriage have their advantages and drawbacks.

Marriage is wonderful. But it has drawbacks.

Paul says in vs. 33 But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, 34 and his interests are divided. Single guys: Everything changes when you get married. Your house changes. As I mentioned before, you can’t move everything you own in the trunk of a car. It take a whole car now just to move the pillows that sit on top of my bed. Your bathtub gets filled with all these products when you get married-various kinds of soap for different parts of the body; scented products; weird looking rock thingies. My bathroom used to have just a bar of soap in it: I washed everything with it-my face, my hair, my body, the floors. Your dress: When I first started to date, V would make fun of me behind my back. Then, after a few months, we would go shopping and Veronica would give her opinions on what I bought. Then she would take my credit card and I would give her opinions on what she brought home. Now it just shows up in my closet and I don’t get an opinion. Veronica has told her friends that if they see me by myself at the mall to call her immediately, CODE RED. I might be shopping for myself. Your schedule: When you’re single you’re running out all the time to see movies, go hiking, play golf, go on road trips. That changes when you get married. People ask me, ”What are your hobbies?” I say, ”Do you mean, What did they used to be?” I used to go rock climbing and skiing all the time. Now I spend most of my time in the kiddie section of the pool. I don’t go rock climbing, play golf, see movies, ski… some of you guys are like, ”Well, I’m married and I still do all that stuff.” That’s because you’re a bad husband. This is not because Veronica complains, but my interests are divided. I don’t go on as many mission trips. Now I do some of these things, they are just scaled back during this chapter. What are your hobbies? Kharis, Allie, Ryah, and Adon. Do you have pets? Yep, K, A, R, A. I don’t need any more living beings depending on me right now. What you do with your money. It is expensive to be married. Very. Not just a slight addition to your budget. Guys, if you read Paul’s admonition in 7:2 that you should get married rather than burning with passion, and thought, ”I want to have sex, so, I’ll just get married”-well, let me warn you, you need to think that all that goes a long with it. First of all, it’s way more expensive than you think. I took the amount that my family adds to my monthly budget, and divided it by the number of times the average couple has sex, and figured out, conservatively speaking, each encounter is costing me close to $600. So dudes, weigh it carefully. The point of that is not to put a price on sex, the point is to say that simply getting married for sex is an unwise choice that doesn’t take into account the many, many other things that go into a marriage! Of course, Veronica says, ”If you think it’s expensive being married to me, just try to leave me.” So a guy says, ”I want to get married.” My response is, ”Do you really?” Are you ready for your life to change that much? • And to the women, Verse 34 says, 34 …And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly (worldly here does not mean ‘sinful’) things, how to please her husband. You say you want to marry a man? Here’s my question for you: Do you know what men smell like on a regular basis? He’s probably not going to eat like you and your girlfriends. In our marriage, that was a big surprise. He’ not a vegetarian. I’d have cows in my yard. He’s probably not as excited about stir-­-fry and noodles and eating with chopsticks. Guys don’t use chopsticks because there’s simply no way to get the amount of foo they require into their mouths with a couple of oversize toothpicks. You ready for that? If you get married and have kids, it’s going to affect your career-husband or wife. For many of you, it may stymie it altogether. Mentor: what’s your favorite book you’ve ever written? The one I didn’t write when my kids were young. The freedom of a single person to pursue certain things, both recreational and career-­-wise, is astounding. Now, I don’t want to take away from being married. Marriage is my gift. I wouldn’t be half the man I am or minister I am if I wasn’t a husband or a father. The things that God does in my life through these roles are wonderful. But my interests are, by God’s design, divided. There are advantages to being single.

The answer to ”Should I get married?” is (a) ”Do I have the gift?”

How do you know?

9 For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion. In other words, if you’re not good at virginity, then you should work toward getting married. If you’re ”aflame with passion.” When you look at a girl and think ”she’s hot,” that’s aflame wit passion. Same when a girl thinks that about a guy and burns fo him.

If that’s you, ask God for the gift of a spouse so that you can have an easier time being holy.

Paul, who had the gift of singleness, describes himself like this:

37 But whoever is firmly established in his heart, being under no necessity but having his desire under control, …he will do well. Firmly established; under no necessity; having his desire under control: Is that you? You’ve probably got the gift of singleness, at least for the time being, and you should take advantage of that. If you’re not like that, ask God for a spouse.

The answer to ”Should I get married?” is… (b) ”Is it time?”

Sometimes you may feel like you want to get married but it evidently is not God’s will because the right person is not in your life or circumstances dictate that it’s not the right time.

Look at what Paul says in vs. 26: 26 I think that in view of the present distress it is good for a person to remain as he is. Context: Paul is writing in a particular era of history where persecution against Christians is reaching a fever pitch. Christian families are being torn apart, sold into slavery, butchered in the arenas. It is difficult enough to go through persecution as a single person, but when you’re married, your worldly troubles multiply! So Paul’s conclusion: ”During this time, if you’re not married, probably better to just remain single.” OK, so that was then. But we are not in a particularly persecuted era of history, at least not compared to them. So what does it mean for us? I believe Paul would encourage marriage in our context more. But, what it does mean is that there can be a ”present” situation in your life that makes it more advantageous for you to wait. Already gave you some examples: Education. Trying to get established in your career.

Or maybe healing from something in your life. Or a call to a mission assignment.

Listen: there are times when marriage would hinder some of the good things what God wants to do in your life. If that is the case, take advantage of this chapter of your life! Don’t look at it as a curse!

Which leads me to #6…

Don’t squander one blessing by coveting another I think of it like David being in the pasture (how hard was that: called to be king; back in the pasture? Some of you feel ”called to be married” but you feel like you ar in a pasture of singleness. Good news: some of God’s best blessings come in the pasture. (David: learned faithfulness; courage; to worship). If you’re single, don’t sit around and wonder, ”When is God going to bless me?” He is blessing you. This is part of the blessing. It’s your pasture time. David would never have been the king he was; the one after God’s own heart, without that pasture time. You don’t have to wait to start your life. Get going with what God is doing. If you’re called to be single for a time, he’ll enable you to be single for that time. And, when and if God does bring along that person, he’ll likely do it not because you obsessed about it, but because you focused your attention on what God was doing and got busy doing it!

Matthew 6:33, ”Seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” In context, ”all” would include marriage. Illus. Tommy Nelson’s analogy: You get going toward God’s goal, and then you look over and there’s someone running as fast as you: ”Hi there. Where you going? There. Me too! Want to go together? Get on the highway of God’s will for your life; don’t putz around in the cul de sac of desperation.

When it’s time, don’t wait!

I love what Paul says in vs. 36 If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his betrothed, if his passions are strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes: let them marry-it is no sin. If it has to be, get married. Vs. 37: Let the one who chooses to be single be firmly established in his singleness; Translation.

Whatever you do, do it boldly.

I have a special word from the Holy Spirit for some you single guys (write this down): Make up your cotton-­-pickin’ mind. Don’t string her along. Don’t keep a ring on her finger with an elusive promise of marriage way out there. And show some confidence. Girls don’t want a wishy-­-washy guy. They do the whole ”sneak-­-a-­-date” thing. You know, where they figure out how to go out with you without going through the danger of asking you out. ”Oh, look, we’re here together again.” The ‘sneak-­-a-­-date.’ And we have a ”friend-­-ationship.” Make up your mind. Go after her. Put on a shirt with buttons. Nothing that says ”Star Trek” on it. Bathe. Shave.

in your hair. Put up the PS3, show some initiative and be a man! Guys, if it’s not time to get married, as in, you don’t have a job, then quit flirting with her, quit leading her on, and get on with what God is doing in your singleness. Girls, you too-don’t lead the guy on. Dating is a road that leads to marriage, and if you’re not ready for the destination, stay off the road! The point: When it’s time to wait on God-wait. When it’s time to act, go boldly into the land. Be strong and courageous. (Now, guys, if she says ‘no,’ then leave her alone, and don’t go too quickly or drop the marriage card on your first date. Godliness and confidence should never be confused with creepiness.) (Write that down!)

Reject the ‘E-­-harmony’ myth Nothing wrong with E-­-harmony. But the myth is that if you can just find the perfect person you’ll have the perfect marriage. And so you’re almost paralyzed trying to find Mr. Perfect.

That’s because we believe in what Tim Keller calls ‘apocalyptic romance.’ Every romantic movie has the same plot: The life story begins just as two people are about to meet each other, and they realize everything in their lives have been leading up to this point. They exchange some witty banter, and then have a Disney-­-esque romantic affair where they find true love, and once they do the story fades out. If there’s a sequel, it’s boring and no one wants to watch it. Married people’s lives are boring. The message is clear: life begins and ends by finding romance.9

Newsflash: There is no perfect person. If you think you’ve found one, check their hand and unless it’s nail-­-scarred that is just an illusion you’ll see through after about 18 months, which is how long it takes for unrealistic infatuation to wear off.

Floss. Get somebody to show you how to put some product

Think about this: This person you are so into was so bad that Jesus had to die for them. Something in them was so bad it took Jesus’ blood to fix it. You think that is going to cause some problems in marriage? If it was bad enough for Jesus to die for, it’s probably going to cause you some mild irritation.

Here’s the point: because you idolize marriage you’re trying to find the perfect person, terrified you’ll marry the wrong one, or if you are married, miserable thinking you married the wrong one.

Let me give you something that will help your marriage: ”You always marry the wrong person.” In fact, Veronica says she’s been married to about 4 J.D’s throughout our 13 years of marriage. I change. So even if you do marry the right person, they’ll likely change, and so will you, and then they’ll be the wrong person. The E-­-harmony myth is that happiness in marriage depends on finding the perfect person. But it’s not compatibility that makes for a happy marriage; it’s grace that makes for a happy marriage. The point of marriage is not to make you happy by finding a perfect soulmate; but to make you holy by teaching you to love like Jesus. Elyse Fitzpatrick, ”The point of marriage is to learn to wash the feet of another sinner.” One who sins against and disappoints you and betrays you.

Never ‘settle.’ Vs. 39 tells you to marry ”only in the Lord.” Never marry an unbeliever or someone who is not walking strongly in Jesus. (I don’t mean to be gender specific, as both genders have these same questions, but…) at around age 25 a lot of girls freak out… ”I’m not married. Got to find a guy. Any guy will do.” Any married person will tell you that it is more miserable to be married to the wrong person than to be single. This guy is going to be the biggest influence on your children, who will be more important to you than anything else on earth, in the ways of God. Don’t settle for a guy who won’t lead them spiritually.

Conclusion: So let me bring this back around to where we started. Marriage is light and momentary. Christ and the church are eternal.

Let me close with a final word from…

John Piper to singles:

To singles: God promises you blessings in the age to come that are better than the blessings of marriage and children.

I am not sentimentalizing singleness to make the unmarried feel good. I am declaring the temporary and secondary nature of marriage and family over against the eternal and primary nature of the church. Marriage and family are temporary for this age; the church is forever.

I am declaring the radical biblical truth that being in a human family is no sign of eternal blessing, but being in God’s family means being eternally blessed. Relationships based on family are temporary. Relationships based on union with Christ are eternal. Marriage is a temporary institution, but what it stands for lasts forever.

(So) renounce the primacy of your natural relationships and follow Jesus into the fellowship of the people of God.

…I say it again to all singles in Christ: God promises you blessings in the age to come that are better than the blessings of marriage and children. …Marriage is temporary, and finally gives way to the relationship to which it was pointing all along: Christ and the church-the way a picture is no longer needed when you see face to face…10

That’s it! Get this. Marriage is not ultimate; it’s just a symbol of something ultimate. Everything else builds from this principle.

Singles: activity on our Equip site. Married: a date idea.

Be back for the next 6 weeks-it’s going to be fun!

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About The Author

J.D. Greear, President of the Southern Baptist Convention, is the pastor of The Summit Church, in Raleigh-Durham, NC and author of Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary (2011) and Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart: How to Know for Sure You Are Saved (2013). Two main things characterize The Summit Church: its gospel focus and sending culture. The gospel is not merely the diving board off of which we jump into the pool of Christianity, it's also the pool itself. Joy, reckless generosity, and audacious faith all come by learning more about God's extravagant love found in Christ. God has blessed the Summit Church with tremendous growth. Under J.D.'s leadership, the Summit has grown from a plateaued church of 300 to one of more than 10,000, making it one of Outreach magazine’s “top 25 fastest-growing churches in America” for several years running. J.D. has also led the Summit to further the kingdom of God by pursuing a bold vision to plant one thousand new churches by the year 2050. In the last ten years, the church has sent out more than 300 people to serve on church planting teams, both domestically and internationally. J.D. completed his Ph.D. in Theology at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary where he is also a faculty member, writing on the correlations between early church presentations of the gospel and Islamic theology. Having lived serving among Muslims, he has a burden to see them, as well as every nation on earth, come to know and love the salvation of God in Christ. He and his beautiful wife Veronica live in Raleigh, NC and are raising four ridiculously cute kids: Kharis, Alethia, Ryah, and Adon.

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