Dear single women of the world,
You do not need to be married to live a successful life. You don’t need a man to accomplish your dreams and aspirations. You can make a living for yourself. You can be independent. Even the Bible talks about being unmarried in a favorable way.
Take a look at 1 Corinthians 7:25-40 (for the sake of space, I will not post the entire passage here but I urge you to read the entire text from your own Bible). In verse 28, Paul makes it clear that being married isn't bad, that it’s not sinful. People get married all the time (especially at Freed-Hardeman, am I right?!). There's nothing wrong with being married but as Paul later mentions, there are some benefits for not being married.
“I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. 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 things, how to please her husband” (1 Corinthians 7:32-34). Paul is telling the Corinthians that it is easier to give undivided devotion to God if they aren’t married. From what I have gathered, providing for and raising a family takes some devotion and sacrifice; and sometimes people get so caught up in their family and marriage that they forget to turn to the Lord.
“I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7:35). Paul told the Corinthians these things for their benefit, so that they may live in full devotion to God. If you can live your life focusing on God while being married, then go for it! However, we are not promised marriage; life does not revolve around being married. You can serve God whether you're single or not. Don’t dwell on the idea of needing to get married but rather, dwell on Jesus.
We need Him. Jesus. Because without His sacrifice, His blood, His everlasting grace, we would have absolutely no hope in going Heaven (1 Peter 1:3). It was unfair to Jesus that He had to go through an agonizing death. It should have been me and you who died on the cross. We deserve that death. We fail God daily. But through the immeasurable love of Christ Jesus we have hope (John 3:16). We need Him.
With Christian love, Jenny
Let me just say that my mission trip to New Zealand has definitely changed my life and I am beyond grateful for everyone who has supported me throughout this entire journey. I have a different perspective on life and on working for the Lord’s church.
Because of the new perspective I have recently gained, I started reflecting back on my life today. Memories from high school and conversations I’ve had with people in the past flooded my mind. I began to recall all of the opportunities that I had to talk to my friends about Christ, all of the conversations I’ve had that could have turned into me studying the Bible with them. I knew that my friends had been lead astray by false teachers and what did I do? I did nothing. Even when the door was wide open. Looking back at the missed opportunities hurts. I regret not talking to my friends about their eternal destiny. I regret it because now it seems as though the times of ample opportunity has passed; we’ve all gone our separate ways, off to college.
In the midst of the reflection, I began to wonder why. Why had I not seized those opportunities? Why didn't I show concern for my friends’ souls? I’ve determined that it was because of fear. I was afraid to lose my friends. I was afraid of saying the wrong thing. I was afraid of what people might think of me. I. Was. Afraid. But I can’t live a life full of fear, especially when souls are at stake.
The Bible says a lot about fear:
“I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fear.” -Psalm 34:4
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” -Joshua 1:9
“Listen to Me, you who know righteousness, you people in whose heart is My law: do not fear the reproach of men, nor be afraid of their insults.” -Isaiah 51:7
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” -John 14:27
“And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. ‘And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.’” -1 Peter 3:13-14
In all of Jesus' ministries that we read about in the Bible not once do we see Him shy away from teaching others. Not once did He show that He was worried about what others might think. Even the apostles were this way. In Acts, we constantly read about the apostles going back to cities that threatened to kill them if they continued to preach about Jesus. Not once did they show fear because God was with them. They knew that their reward was in heaven. They knew that being physically killed on earth for righteousness' sake could never cause spiritual death. "For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain" (Philippians 1:21).
As long as I have God with me, I shouldn’t be afraid. I can’t let past fear hold me back from spreading God’s word. There has been a lot of missed opportunities in the past but I can't let fear hold me back from seizing the new opportunities that I have each and every day. I choose to live a life that is fearless, a life that is full of spreading God’s love and light on everyone around me, a life modeled after Christ.
It has only been a day since I’ve gotten back from a trip to New Zealand and I’m still in awe of everything. The trip itself was definitely good for me. What really made an impact on my life was all of the training that we did to prepare us for spreading God’s word. The following quote from Don Humphrey was brought to our attention while training:
“The average member of the church of Christ has heard 4,000 sermons, sung 20,000 songs, participated in 8,000 public prayers…and converted zero sinners.”
Let that sink in for a moment.
I don’t know about you, but that hit me hard. I was doing everything in my power to ensure that I go to heaven when I die but I was overlooking God’s command to spread the gospel so that others will go to heaven also (Matthew 28:18-20). There are so many lost souls in the world and I wasn’t doing my part to help them.
I was guilty of making excuses. “I don’t know how to share the gospel with others,” “I don’t know the Bible well enough,” “I’m too busy” (if Satan can't make you bad, he’ll make you busy), “it’s not my talent,” “that’s what the preacher is for,” etc. It’s time to quit making excuses. It’s time to break the status quo of “the preacher does the elders’ work; the elders do the deacons’ work; the deacons don’t know what to do, and the members simply warm the pew.” In Matthew 28:18-20, everyone is called to reach the lost; not just the preacher, elders, or the deacons. Every. single. member. of Christ’s church is supposed to be making an effort to evangelize, to make disciples.
In the city where I was in New Zealand, the congregation size is about 60 members and the population of the city is about 500,000 people. It would hardly make a difference if I made one disciple every year for the next 15 years there; it would be a drop in the bucket. However, in theory, if each disciple won a single person to the Lord each year, it would only take 14-15 years for the congregation to win the entire city to Jesus.
We can’t expect one person to do all of the evangelizing for a congregation; they wouldn’t be very effective. It is up to the congregation to work together diligently in order to make an impact on the lost souls of the world.
Even though my mission trip has ended, I’m still on a mission to reach the lost. Are you willing to make that your mission too?
My name is Jennifer Odom and I've been a Christian since October 2011. I'm a 19-year-old sophomore at Freed-Hardeman University. I hope to speak at several ladies days, become a music teacher, get involved with mission work, and bring as many people as I can with me to heaven. Stepping in Light is affiliated with the church of Christ.