As Christians, we’re told not to put our identity in any skill or talent we have, in any material object, in anything we do or don’t do, but to place it in God and his love for us. Yet in a culture that is so romantic relationship focused, living that out can be hard. But no matter what our relationship status is, as Christians we need to remember God is our foundation, and learn to live that out in all situations.
‘God is our foundation, in our singleness, in our marriages, in our dating, God is our foundation.’
These are the words I was again reminded of and were left ringing through my head after hearing a talk on relationships. So easy to say, much much harder to live out. But it’s so true.
Learning to seek God first is the priority
Singleness, marriage, and dating all come with challenges and advantages, but learning to seek God first is the priority, no matter what relationship status box we tick.
(The following extract is taken from page 86-89 of The Dating Dilemma book, read the introduction for free.)
When did you last experience giving God your ‘everything’? It could have been during a time of worship at an event, a missions week, or going on a retreat, but that feeling of focusing on God alone made you feel alive.
In those times, we wish it could always be this way. Sometimes we can feel jealous or unworthy of the intimacy that ‘super-saints’ like Moses or David had with God, but this is available to us too. In all times and in all places, we can know an increasing closeness to God.
We often see people struggling to solve the conundrum of how the two work together
So what about when we’re getting close to the person we’re dating? Isn’t this the greatest distraction from our focus on God?
We often see people struggling to solve the conundrum of how the two work together. You might have friends who had seemed passionately committed to Jesus, and then, within weeks of falling in love, they had lost all interest in anything to do with God.
But instead of being the thing that gets in the way of our relationship with God, dating can be about two people working at growing closer to God as they grow closer to each other. This begins with each person putting their faith in God first.
Seek God First
Scripture shows us that the best way to live starts with putting God first. He comes before our work, our relationships and our pleasure. We are blessed to have a God who wants to give us good things, but we don’t put the gifts before the gift giver.
He becomes our absolute priority: ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me’ (Exodus 20:2–3).
Jesus makes service to God and his will the priority (Luke 9:57–62). Instead of being a restriction, this way of life sets us free to become all we can be.
Marriage Is No Exception
It won’t surprise you, then, that the Bible teaches that the best way to approach marriage is to have God at the centre. Marriage isn’t an end in itself, but a way that people can fulfil God’s mission together (Genesis 1:27–28)
Marriage should be a place where society sees a couple reflecting God’s love for his church as they take their vows seriously (1 Corinthians 6:15–17). God is not deluded; he knows that it’s hard to put him first in a marriage. (Read Marriage Isn’t Really About ‘Us’)
It’s possible to serve God wholeheartedly and have a spouse and family
Paul points out that single people don’t have the divided loyalties experienced by a married couple (1 Corinthians 7:32–35). This is actually a real advantage of singleness. But Paul isn’t anti-marriage; of course it’s possible to serve God wholeheartedly and have a spouse and family, but there are more pressures to juggle.
Every Relationship Status
It takes work. We’re being a bit unrealistic if we think we can date someone and invest all our time and energy in them, neglect our friends, our family and our God, get married, and then instantly begin to put God first.
Singleness can be lonely, but it’s not a waiting room before the real work of a relationship begins
This is where singleness needs to get a shout-out. We form the habits of serving God before we ever start dating. When we are single, it can be easier to forge a lifestyle that puts God first.
Singleness can be lonely, but it’s not a waiting room before the real work of a relationship begins. It’s an opportunity to seek God, serve him and establish a hunger for building his kingdom – all of which will bless your future dating and married life [if and when it happens]. (Read What I Rediscovered From A Group Of Single People). It’s for these very reasons that some people embrace singleness for life.
Zoe and Tim
Tim dated Zoe, a talented musician who was keen to use her musical abilities for God’s glory. She loved music therapy and leading worship at her church. Tim didn’t know the first thing about music and had little interest in it, but he saw that God had gifted Zoe.
So he went along to her music recitals and gave her space and time to practice, instead of demanding that she spend all her time with him. In doing so, he encouraged her to put God’s will first. Dating this way requires us to be courageous. It means doing all it takes to chase after God for ourselves and spurring each other on as we chase after him together. (Read Why I Chose To Think Differently About My Relationship.)
Every relationship is different, everyone will serve God in different ways, and different relationship statuses bring different dynamics. But seeking God will always result in stronger relationships, which God wants to bless us with.
Imagine if we focused on God more, despite our relationship status. And thought about how he sees us, and we put our confidence in him rather than anything or anyone else.
What small practical thing can you do this week to seek God more today? Comments welcomed below.