3 Foundations for Christian Community
Whether married, unmarried, previously married, or widowed, the College Park Member Covenant calls us to “watch over one another in brotherly love.” While this sounds simple, differences within the body of Christ often make us hesitant. How do we love those with a different marital status or those in a different stage of life? Thankfully, our love is not based on our relational similarities. Scripture offers three foundations for a deeper love rooted in Christ.
1. Our mission
Christ called all of his followers (whether married or single) to a life-altering mission: to make disciples (Matt. 28:18-20). However, this calling is experienced by people in slightly different ways. A married person enters a covenant before God, vowing to love and prioritize their spouse. A single believer’s first and only priority is the Lord (1 Cor. 7:32-34).
This makes ministry look a little different. But, just as a single person can support a married person’s attention to their spouse and kids, a married person can encourage a single person in their unique ministry opportunities. A difference in marital status is not as divisive as it may seem, as all people were once single before married! Married people must lean into the lives of singles, encouraging with experience and friendship. The call to make disciples is lived out differently, but we are all called to the same mission and we need each other for it.
2. Our family
Gathering with Christians should feel like a family, complete with fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters (1 Tim. 5:1-2). Whether gathering for worship on Sunday; meeting in a living room for Small Group; or serving shoulder-to-shoulder, we treat each other as family members. We can listen to the heartbreak of a sister, enjoy the hospitality of a mother, learn from the advice of a father, or lean on a brother through a tough time.
Our bond with other believers is closer than blood; we share one Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13). That means we have an obligation toward intimacy. Both single and married people should embrace one another in a way that makes them feel what they already are: as close as family.
3. Our empathy
Families are there for each other physically, emotionally, and spiritually. And we’re not just a family, we’re a body, with every part affecting the whole. The Apostle Paul says, “If one member suffers, all suffer together” (1 Cor. 12:26-27).
So where can you go after a break-up? After a job interview rejection? When a family member passes away? Believers retreat to the body of Christ, alongside family eager to suffer with you and love you through your grief.
Likewise, we are called to “rejoice with those who rejoice” (Rom. 12:15). This looks like everything from remembering birthdays, to celebrating huge life events, such as the birth of a new child or buying a new house. The body of Christ is called to celebration and support during all seasons of life, both good and bad. A body is connected, so when we empathize with our brothers and sisters, (both married and single) we are echoing the reality of our connectedness in Christ.
Questions to Consider
- How can I encourage someone with a different marital status in their ministry?
- Do I have fellow believers I consider family? How can I move toward this?
- Who can I empathize with this week, even if their experience is different from my own?