Recently, I attended my regular Bible study which consists of a great group of mostly young 20-somethings. It’s been an incredible blessing to be a part of a community that has been welcoming and wonderful (and I mean both of those sincerely).
A couple of weeks ago, a question that was asked that has kept my attention since. The question was this: “How can we be preparing ourselves for marriage now, as single people?” The question provoked good discussion, yet as we discussed I reflected on the reality that at least some of us in that room wouldn’t end up getting married, or through tragedies of death or divorce, may end up living most of our lives single.
This simple question got me wondering about how the church ministers to people, when those people represent an incredible diversity of experience. For many, hearing sermons about marriage and loving one’s spouse are painful because all they have been praying for is a spouse, someone to love. For some couples, hearing about how to discipline their children is painful, because all they have been praying for is a baby. The issues extend beyond marriage and the family, but those are often the ones that hit deeply.
How does the church minister to such diversity? Often, simply offering a disclaimer that recognizes the people who cannot identify with what’s being talked about feels cheap. But neither should we stop offering Biblical counsel about all areas of life. So what’s the answer?
I believe that ministering to diversity requires a return constantly and consistently to the gospel. Not only does the gospel transcend ethnic boundaries, but it speaks to each of us in our desires and our brokenness. It reminds us that Jesus knows our struggle, regardless of the situation. He is no stranger to our pain and sorrow. Only when the gospel is central, can a diverse church be unified. Only when the single people and the married couples are both turning to Christ’s atoning death and resurrection life, can we expect the Church to be united.
This means that we minister to the church by sharing Christ and the good news of God’s reaching out to us in him. Of course, this post is not just for the pastor on Sunday morning, the call to minister extends to all of us. It means that in our small groups we recognize the difference of experience and preach the gospel to each other. It means in our individual relationships, over coffee, we find unity in the gospel, even as we share radically different experiences.
I know I need more of him, and I need others to preach him to me because he alone understands all my sorrows, all my struggles and can give me hope everlasting. And I know you need more of him too, because we are all in desperate need.
May we always come back to Jesus.