Dating is obviously relevant to your life. You singles are pondering the relationship idea, this is right on par for you. So, I know you are on board.
Just don't make it awkward. Do what you always do in church. Just keep your eyes forward. We will make it through this.
This topic of dating, which is under the whole concept of relationships. Married folk, this is for you. You should continue to date your spouse. In fact, I hold to the idea that dating should be initiated with a trajectory towards marriage. So, all of the principles we will discuss will directly contribute to your marriage.
I am a working progress. I know what the Bible is teaching us about relationships. I understand that I must apply these truths as well. But my wife can tell you that I still mess up. So, let us continue in grace as we go forward.
Whether you are a long time, fully dedicated believer or you’re on the fence about this whole Jesus thing, let me qualify this for you. There has been no one ever in history who would argue, at least in their right mind, that Jesus was the most kind, most loving, and peace abounding man to ever walk this earth. So today, as we encounter the Word of God with the idea of seeing how God speaks into relationships and the topic of dating I want us to hang on to this. I really want us to grasp this.
"Christ-centered love is not possible without being Christ centered." (Matthew 22:37-40)
In this text, Jesus is dealing with Pharisees (religious know-it-alls) who are trying to get him caught up in his ministry. They ask Jesus, "Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?"
Jesus then summarizes the 10 commandments, the law, into 2 categories, which fall under one topic.
- The law is about relationship with God and relationship with people.
- We find the law in Exodus 20 in our Bibles.
FIRST FOUR: These are about relationship with God. (vertical law)
LAST SIX: These are about relationship with people. (horizontal law)
Let me say this a different way:
"You cannot have right relationships, without first having the right relationship, right."
All that I am saying is this: Before we can be right with people, we must be right with God.
Let me say it this way now: We must be right with God, before we can ever expect to be right with people.
Vertical (v. 37)
"He said to him, 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind."
We have to go vertical!
Before we can even begin to consider relationships as they should be viewed, we have to have peace with God. (THE CROSS OF CHRIST)
We must be made right with God.
We were created in the image of God.
We were created by God.
And for God. We see this in creation account.
If this is true and I certainly believe that it is-this changes everything.
- We can't just opt into some co-dependent relationship, whether that be dating or marriage.
We must first learn what it means to be satisfied in Christ.
Often times, many people will say something like this, "I'm just so lonely. If only I had a boyfriend or a girlfriend."
What they do not understand is that they are setting their partner up for failure. That person can never fulfill the needs that you have.
We must be made right with God first.
By grace through faith.
It is through Jesus Christ that we are reconciled to the Father.
This way we obtain peace with God.
- Once we are granted peace with God, we then receive a piece of God (Holy Spirit), and through this we can then experience and share the peace of God.
Horizontal (v. 39)
"The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself."
When I read this verse, to truly understand it- I must be really honest with myself.
DO I LOVE MYSELF?
Do I love the good things about myself? SURE!
Do I love the bad things about myself? No one in their right mind loves the bad, that's just stupid.
But overall, DO I LOVE ME?
- I would say, for most of us- if not all, the answer is yes. I love myself.
That is why I feed myself, clothe myself, bathe myself. I love myself so much that I tend to myself. I take care of myself.
- You're getting the point.
Jesus says, "Love your neighbor as yourself."
Ok, Justin; Now, What does this have to do with dating?
Glad you asked.
You treat yourself well, treat your beloved well.
Christian, you pray for yourself, pray for your beloved.
You lead yourself into the presence of God, or you should be- do the same for your beloved.
- You all are getting the point. right?
Now, let's address our culture.
Stop looking for the "one"
I know, I know. But God has someone out there for you. That is what you have been told and that really does sound great, but it paints the wrong picture.
The truth is- You can marry who you want to.
The truth is- this searching for "my one" creates a situation where you set yourself up for failure. Here is what I mean.
- When you date, you date with a trajectory towards marriage. When we date with a trajectory towards marriage, we date with a purpose.
- When we pursue someone with marriage in mind, we then evaluate them according to a certain set of standards. Do we not? I think we do.
- The problem is that we most often compromise those standards, due to many different factors. But we still lower our standards.
- These standards should be established from the Bible and prioritized as primary and secondary. (For example, a secondary factor is: I like Ole Miss, she likes MSU) That should not be a deal breaker, but for some it is.
Instead of searching for the one, just keep your eyes open while staying on mission for God. Let me explain.
Do your research of what a Godly man or woman should look like.
Then, obviously, you will have some personal or situational criteria that you would prefer as well.
Think about these and measure all of your set standards by the Bible.
Now, here is the catch. While your faithful to God in all things- while you are living in the overflow. Meaning, living your life out of the overflow of your love for God. Be patient-but be intentional.
It is when you are single that you need to get the vertical relationship right. Don't waste your singleness. Get right with God, so you can share that peace of God with your future beloved.
Guys, the woman of your dreams, most likely, is not going to bump into you as you leave the coffee shop causing you to spill your coffee on yourself and you instantly get googly eyes: like we see on Hallmark movies.
"Not saying you men watch Hallmarks that often but I'm forced to from time to time."
As romantic as these movies portray this, it's unlikely.
Ladies, the same for you. You must be intentional.
3. The Origin (v. 40) "ULTIMATE LOVE"
So, we have vertical relationships and horizontal relationships. It is where the vertical and horizontal intersect that your geometry class calls this the "origin".
The origin is where relationships should "ORIGINATE."
In the gospel of Luke, we find one of the only few verses about the childhood of Jesus. Luke 2:52,
"And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and favor with God and with people."
- It is in Jesus that we find this last point made manifest.
- It is in Jesus Christ that we find this last point lived out. Not necessarily in dating, but in normal everyday relationships.
Jesus found favor with God (1st.) and then with people (2nd.).
This is how we should live as well.
Now, back to verse 40.
"All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands."
- The commands referred to here in this verse, is summarized by the word LOVE. The law was given out of love, and the law should be obeyed out of love.
It is at the intersection of love for God and love for people that we find ourselves living according to the incarnational model. I call this incarnational living.
- This is not to be confused with the "Incarnated." That's Jesus! But rather, a model for right living in relationships.
- We first get the vertical relationship right. Then secondly, we are then enabled to get the horizontal relationships right.
It is at the Cross of Christ, where we find this displayed most ultimately. Jesus' love unto the Father, to be obedient unto death on a cross.
Also, the love of Jesus Christ displayed in his submission to the Cross. Jesus was more than a man.
- He was divinity-gift-wrapped in humanity for the ultimate purpose of glorifying the Father and for our good. Jesus was the gift given unto mankind to be the mediator which would bring us peace with God. However, this peace is obtained when God draws us.
- When God draws us, our eyes (our spiritual eyes) are opened. When our eyes open, we must become obedient to the point of death.
- It is at the moment that we receive sight, that we experience the greatest of miracles. Salvation- meaning hope for eternal life, also we receive that piece of God. (the Holy Spirit) that enables us to live horizontally according to the example Christ set for us.
- We are made right with God, through the Cross of Christ and find our hope in the Resurrection of Christ. Once we experience this, we can then live in the overflow.
- Such a wonderous gift, can only cause the reaction of love and joy.
- Therefore, our overwhelming love and joy in this relationship with God, is how we live in the overflow. Maintaining that first love for God is another story.
But practically what are some goals (in our horizontal relationships) that we can strive towards as it relates to what we have already heard.
This first one relates to not searching for "the one." Love people for the image they are created in."
I said it earlier, We should not condemn people, but neither condone sin or evil. There is a major difference in condemning a person and not condoning their evil actions or sin.
The story of the "adultress woman" brought to Jesus to be stoned. (John 4)
- Jesus did not condemn her, but he did not condone here sinful living.
- Rather, he loved her for her, and empowered her to live for God. And we should too.
"Stop looking for the one" - All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
You will find the one when you apply that first goal I gave you. Stop searching for that perfect person for you. It is when you choose to love people for who they are, that you will find yourself choosing to love a someone for all that they are. For better or for worse, for richer or poor. As God demonstrated his sacrificial love, it will begin to happen in your life. Just choose to love.
"Date with a trajectory towards marriage."
Date with intentionality.
- Don't be like some people who have been dating for 6 years and still haven't married. Stick to God's design, it is far better.
- You ever went to the grocery store and forgot what you came for? I have. And I leave with stuff that isn't even supposed to go home with me.
- You will catch that in a minute.
"Don't date non-Christians. Or Don't date Unequally Yoked."
Without a Christian spouse you will either drift away from God or make your spouse a functional god.
1 Kings 11:2-3, 6 (Solomon lead astray by women who didn't love the Lord.) He married many foreign women, meaning that they didn't serve the living God. His love for them lead him astray.
The same can happen to us.
Does your love for God spur your beloved onward to the living God?
Does your beloved spur you onward to the living God?
"Don't Flirt to Convert."
This one is grounded in a four-letter word that is not love. LUST.
But Justin I am going to lead him to Jesus. That is great, but you can do that without dating him.
When this happens, a student will bring that beloved to church and they will sit up front. Next thing, they have moved to the back. They start showing up late. Next, they find themselves missing church sometimes. Before you know it- they got married. Oh that's great you got married, its biblical. Sure, except for the fact that he isn't a Christian. Before long, your new husband says, "Babe, I now it's Sunday and you go to church and all, but it is my only day off. Can we just stay home and be together for once?"
- Out of love for your husband you stay home. Next, you start missing once a month, next thing you know you are out Church and haven't been back in 6 months until you got invited back for the revival or the Awesome August event. That is why you don't flirt to convert. It leads you astray and sometimes into apostasy.
This is the most important and it relates directly to our first point. (Vertical Relationship). PURSUE A PURE MIND.
Out of first-hand experience I can tell you today that this is the greatest gift you can bring your spouse on the day of your marriage.
Traditional church in the last few years has taught- "Sex before marriage is bad." And they are right, but it is much deeper than that.
Most men and women too, have heard don't have sex before marriage so much that they actually believed getting to marriage a virgin was the only important thing. The problem is that, in the process we probably filled our hearts and minds with lust.
Many men and women, in this case struggle with pornography.
Many men and women, in this case commit many other fallacies because we were shooting for a goal that was short sighted.