When Christian campus students or singles consider a new living situation, a few questions might come up.
Should I live alone? (It would be nice to have a place all to myself!)
Should I find some roommates? (It would be great to split the bills!)
If I do live with someone else, how do I choose? (Who would be easy to live with?)
But for the follower of Jesus, these questions are tempered by some even bigger questions…
What is God’s will for my life? Does God care whether I live alone or with others? Are some things God could teach me through Christian roommates that I won’t learn living by myself?
The good news is that the Bible has much to say about Christian households-and God’s definition of household goes far beyond whether people are related by blood. In fact, when you move in with roommates, in God’s eyes you are living in an extension of His household!
God’s View of Household
The dictionary defines household as a person or group of people occupying a single dwelling or the living spaces and possessions belonging to such a unit. This definition could include family members, but not just those who are blood relatives. Family also refers to people who share common attitudes, interests and goals.
This last definition of family aptly describes the Christian family. While Christians are united by Christ’s blood, they also share a deep common bond and similar goals in the faith. In fact, God feels so strongly about the connection believers share in his church, he made it a household (Ephesians 2:19).
We can also look to the many “one another” verses sprinkled throughout the New Testament as evidence of God’s desire that we live in relationship, including:
“Be devoted to one another…” (Romans 12: 10a) “Love one another…” (Romans 13:8) “Serve one another…” (Galatians 5:13) “Be kind and compassionate to one another…” (Ephesians 4:32) “Admonish one another…” (Colossians 3:16) “Encourage one another…” (1 Thessalonians 5:11) “Spur one another on…” (Hebrews 10:24) “Offer hospitality to one another…” (1 Peter 4:9)
It is clear that God intended for us to learn much in relationship. Living in the same residence as others oftentimes speeds this learning curve. Learning to love, serve, forgive, share and communicate become more than lofty ideas-they become our lifeline to getting along!
Perhaps the question students or singles should ask before transitioning to a new living situation is, “What would help me learn the most in my walk with God?”
If you’re ready to ask that gutsy question, than I believe the Bible gives at least six reasons why establishing a household with Christian roommates may be the best option.
1) Together, we are protected. There is great strength in numbers. Just take a look at the animal kingdom. A wolf can easily overtake a sheep that’s wandered off from the fold. But a group of sheep are less likely to be attacked, especially if they have a good shepherd watching over them.
God, as the Good Shepherd, knew that we help to face the many obstacles, attacks and hardships that come our way (Isaiah 40:11). Christian roommates can be a hedge of protection-seeing dangers Satan introduces and helping keep us on the straight and narrow (Proverbs 4:11).
2) Together, we grow more. Like marriage, living with other people is a great revealer of character-ours and theirs! Many times, we learn more about ourselves by living with others who are not like us. And confronting areas of our character that need refinement is key to growing in Christ-likeness.
With God’s help, people can reflect to us the things we are doing well and parts of our life that can more glorify God. We also get to be that reflection to others and encourage growth in our roommates with grace, truth and love (Ephesians 4:15).
3) Together, we learn more. The book of Proverbs continually calls us to seek outside counsel and warns us from relying on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6). Being immersed in relationship allows us to engage new ideas, experience the world in innovative ways and challenge our own thinking.
Establishing a Christian household is also valuable preparation. As we learn how to communicate respectfully, resolve conflict and even express ourselves vulnerably, these skills become part of our character-skills that we can bring one day into marriage and parenting.
4) Together, we walk in the light. God saw that it was not good for Adam to be alone (Genesis 2:18), so He brought him a companion/roommate/mate – Eve. Like Adam and Eve, we all need companionship, love and acceptance in our lives. But we also need to walk in the truth, and when we live in relationship, it’s simply harder to “hide out.”
When we allow other people who are following God into our lives, it is more difficult for Satan to get a foothold. Just as Eve’s natural inclination was to hide from the Lord, we are often just as likely to escape if we have unconfessed sin, bitterness or pain in our lives. Roommates are oftentimes God’s angels looking out for us and reminding us that we are really never alone.
5) Together, we are cared for. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 reminds us that two are better than one. Why? If one falls down, the other can pick him or her up. This passage doesn’t just imply that God is part of a godly marriage. It also affirms the value of friendship with God as the focal point.
Just as Jesus reached out to touch lepers and heal the blind, God often uses people to offer tangible signs of His love. Roommates can pray for us, serve us and lend a listening ear when we need to talk. Similarly, we can be the hands and feet of Christ when someone else needs a word of encouragement or a caring friend.
6) Together, we can do more. No one can accuse God of not being practical! He designed the church so that when everyone does his or her part, more people benefit-inside and outside of the church. Likewise, Christian households are a great example of taking God’s advice to work together to achieve more.
For anyone renting an apartment, it is more manageable to split rent three ways. It’s easier to make the living space functional when we each contribute furniture, dishes, etc. Living in relationship also allows each of us to gain from our different strengths (Romans 12:6a).
God has never gone it solo
What we forget sometimes is that, within his very nature, God is relational. From the beginning, God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit were together, living in complete unity, in what could even be considered a prototype of a household. Consider…
– Relationship came before the creation – Jesus talked about how God loved him even before the creation of the world (John 17:23). The plans set in motion before the creation (1 Peter 1:2) were lovingly spun by God through relationship.
– The creation was carried out in relationship – When God made man, he said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness…” (Genesis 1:26, emphasis mine) While the earth was still formless, we find the Spirit of God hovering over the waters. Scripture tells us that all things were created through Jesus (Colossians 1:16).
Here we find our model for household. The Father, Son and Spirit creating together. Loving together. Planning together. Rejoicing together. If we look at the relational nature of the Godhead, we catch a glimpse of why he might have decided to put us within relationships too.
1 Peter 2:5 describes God’s family as, “living stones being built together into a spiritual house.” Having Christian roommates is a beautiful illustration of how living stones can become a spiritual house where God is honored and lives among you.