Next in my stream of consciousness regarding what it means to go deeper with God, I’d like to address the issue of …
“ew!” I can hear it now – “not the “A” word!” It goes against every grain in our prideful organisms. Hair is bristling on the back of your neck as you read this. Your hand is reaching for the mouse to quickly find something else to read…
…but wait! Don’t go yet!
In any society, accountability is the key to survival. It’s true in politics, sports, religion, relationships, and business. I’d go as far as to say our individual, selfish human nature is too strong to be completely overcome on our own. We ALL need accountability in our lives.
I will go a step further and say that as Christians, accountability is even more important. Why would I say that? Well, not only are we battling our own selfish human desires, we also have an adversary who is ever eager to jump on our individual weaknesses and exploit them for the purpose of destroying anything virtuous left in us.
Think about it – when a famous person is “caught in the act” it’s almost as if it helps their career. Think about recent headlines with Brittany, Paris and O.J., for example. Sure, they get media attention, but isn’t that what they’re after? And, how many celebrity divorces occur? (all of them?) It’s as if we all expect celebritys to divorce – it’s not a matter of “if” but “when.”
Now, think about Christian leaders who are “caught in the act.” Their lives are destroyed completely. Their ministries are damaged. Their families decimated. I’m thinking of the recent scandal that happed in my area with Randy & Paula White’s divorce. This sparked all kinds of seething media attention and became a feeding frenzy for blogs and news sources everywhere. Questions were raised about the effectiveness of “mega-churches” as a whole. “See?! Institutional churches are to blame!” People questioned Christianity as a whole. “If leaders in the Christian community can’t hold a marriage together, where’s the hope?”
Well, I believe we are, as Christians, held to a higher standard. Is that fair? Well, yes and no. It is what it is. We claim to have the Creator of the entire Universe living within us – giving us access to a “higher moral power.” The Holy Spirit indwells us guiding us, convicting us. Yet, we’re only human, just like the rest of humanity.
All this leads me to ask – what if Randy had an effective accountability partner/group? I’m not saying he didn’t – and things can happen even to the best of us. But I put the word “effective” in there for a reason.
Not that having accountability is like a magic formula for success – hardly. But, it IS true that Christian accountability can help provide a more stable foundation, a source of strength for daily living. We need each other. And, don’t just take my word for it:
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. – Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NIV)
As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. – Proverbs 27:17 (NIV)
We are all going to have to give an account to God someday for all our actions (Romans 14:12). And, Jesus gave us the passage in 1 Corinthians chapter 12 to suggest the importance of accountability between believers – we’re all a part of the same body!
We are told to encourage one another:
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. – Hebrews 10:24
…encourage one another and build each other up… – 1 Thess 5:11
We are also told very specifically to hold each other accountable and help each other avoid sin:
Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. – Galatians 6:12
Being accountable to one another is an important factor. We all need to be accountable. As much as our flesh resists it and detests it, our faith and our witness depends upon it.
I’ve established with this post the importance of accountability among believers. Next, I’ll throw out some suggestions about what a successful accountability relationship looks like.