A Flirting with Righteousness: The Obligation Toward Radical Love, Service, and Giving of Ourselves
Toes dangling over a precipice, many flirt with great danger. Perhaps not in a physical sense, though no doubt many do indeed take risks in the name of adventure and fun. All, however, embark on a greater threat however. Flirting with danger and sin may be the number one Christian pastime. Those not of the Way are already dead in spirit and truth. They do not know the ways of God nor His heart—but He knows their hearts. And this love is a divine mystery—to quote Dustin Lau, this is a “ridiculous mercy.” His heart is to restore and renew—to bring back to life.
When rescued from this abyss of darkness and sin, we are no long “obligated” to sin and death. (Romans 7)
But this freedom does not stop us from trying to shackle ourselves back into those chains. Though the fetters won’t clamp down and lock, we still place our limbs in them as if they do. We flirt with our old nature, our temptations and sins. We volitionally plunge ourselves into darkness though we are free to walk into the light of Christ’s truth and our new identities as Father God’s beloved children. We are free to not give our bodies over to needles, pornified images on screen and paper, or to imbibe to our destruction beverages which poison our minds and cloud our convictions.
We flirt with destruction, sin, and death—though we are not married to those things but Christ. Such affairs need to stop. Like a beautiful bride draped in pure white playing by a mud sty, we are a holy and pure people who flirt with all the filth of sin.
Another principle is at work in our lives, however. Often enough, the body of Christ does not act holy and pure despite her identity as such. Following Christ is so much more than abstinence from vice. Christ was not just pure and sinless. Having just His purity was not enough for Him. He was also out in the streets, among the suffering of the world, serving them.
When rescued from our obligations toward sin and the shackles are let loose, we then have a nature within us that is obligated toward righteousness—toward right action.
But this “righteousness” is so much more than the abstinence from the mud. It is the sacrificial and radical love and service we exhibit toward one another and toward our “neighbors” in the world—to touch, love, give, and serve as Christ demonstrated himself.
Too often, however, we flirt with this righteousness. We flirt with the idea of giving and serving. We flirt with the idea of loving unconditionally—but we often do not allow ourselves to fall into the radicalness of who Christ is and who we ought to be.
According to Gary Thomas, author of Sacred Marriage, we often “‘flirt’ with righteousness—being occasionally courteous to other drivers (if you happen to be in a good mood), helping someone in need by opening the door for them (if you have the time), throwing a few extra bucks into the offering plate (as long as you won’t miss them). But this behavior is in reality superficial righteousness…holiness is far more than an inclination toward occasional acts of kindness and charity. It is a commitment to persistent surrender before God” (Sacred Marriage, 108)
God has fashioned and made us to always be giving—not just of a few extra bucks from our fattened wallets, bloated free-time, and abundant resources. He doesn’t want some of our money, time, and energy. He wants all of us all the time.
It is our obligation to serve. It is our obligation to give. It is our obligation to partner with the local church, missionaries local and abroad, and to live as missionaries to our communities. And we do all this because we were loved, served, and given to first! The life of Christ calls us in turn to pour out forgiveness, love, service, and giving onto others.
Apostle John wrote this concerning this principle—”This is how we have come to know love: He laid down His life for us. We should also lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has this world’s goods and sees his brother in need but shuts off his compassion from him—how can God’s love reside in him? Little children, we must not love in word or speech, but in deed and truth” (1 John 3:16-18, emphasis is mine, HCSB)
We are obligated to act these ways—to not do so is a “shutting off” of what ought to already naturally flow out of us. Grace, love, giving, service all should naturally flow out of a follower of Christ. We ought not just flirt with righteousness and giving of ourselves. We ought to give wholeheartedly.
How are you giving? How are you serving? I would encourage you to continue in what you are doing and do so with much more zeal, sacrifice, and joy.
But I would also ask that you consider supporting and praying for one of the members of the THEOLOGY21 team and his wife—Shaun and Amanda Wissmann. They are two incredible missionaries in Peru who are doing some incredible work for Christ. While other people their age are out chasing the “American dream,” searching for that next job promotion, or collecting material goods—like cars, houses, toys, etc.—these twenty-somethings are radically giving all they have for Christ in Peru.
If you haven’t yet, check out their ministry at Called to Peru. Lift them and their ministry up in prayer. Consider giving some support and “worldly goods” (if you have been so blessed) to their ministry and the Peruvians whom them serve. Click here to donate. Even a little bit will help.
We all are on mission together. We are all “obligated” toward righteousness and giving of ourselves. Let us not be a people who just flirt with righteousness but fully embrace it.
THEOLOGY21 is a co-op of authors dedicated to renovating theology for a new generation, taking the ancient truths of scripture and theology and speaking to the post-Christian culture of the 21st century. To keep up-to-date on all things THEOLOGY21, Give our Facebook page a “like”, follow our twitter page, add yourself to our email list, or subscribe to our feed!