Saturday, April 19, 2014

Are You Accountable?


In the past few years there have been several, prominent Christian leaders confess (after being caught) to moral failure and sin.  This is sad, but not unexpected since we are all open to temptation and to sin…only a life in pursuit of Christ can protect us.  However, something has surprised me.  When these people choose to sin, the response has not been what I thought it would be…we haven’t been challenged to follow Christ and deepen our love for him. We haven’t been told that apart from a passionate pursuit of Christ this could happen to any of us and been pushed to walk deeper in our love for Him. Instead, a lack of accountability is to blame. The people sinned because they were not accountable.

I totally disagree.  I do not believe that accountability is the issue, however it is what we hear more than anything.  
“They were not accountable!”  
“A lack of accountability led to this.”  
“If they had been held accountable, then they…..” 

This battle cry of accountability is one that we hear a lot.  My question is this: Is it in the Bible?

I think that we have made an exchange…and one that does not work.  We have exchanged what is in the Bible for something we have made up. Then we act like what we have made up is what is in the Bible.  

For example, we are taught to get an ‘accountability partner’ and then ‘ask tough questions’ when we have our weekly meeting.  Of course, we must always ask the last question: “Did you lie about the other questions?” 

While this may not sound bad…and it isn’t…my question remains: Is it in the Bible?

SIDE NOTE: As a missionary, I am asked all the time about accountability...and the question is mainly focused on financial. I have it, layers and layers of it. We have financial boards, rules, policies, etc. We have people to watch our lives and to be open with. I have no problem with a mission committee wanting to see my accountability. I believe that we should be open and honest with the trust that people invest in us. Especially from a business point of view…my investors have a right to track their investment.  So, this is not what I am talking about.  I am addressing the whole issue and teaching of accountability itself.

Let me throw out some questions to you:

Have you ever done a Bible study on accountability? 

Is what you are referring to when you speak of accountability in the Bible? 

Are there examples in the Scripture of your type of accountability? 

Where did you hear this term in the first place and did you investigate it in Scripture? 

Also, do you have this accountability that you demand in others in your life as well?" 

The fact is, the word 'Accountability" is not in the Bible. The word "Accountable" is in the Bible twice, and neither time is it used in the way that the Christian community uses it. When we talk of accountability, we are talking about looking someone in the eye and asking them about their moral purity.  We can change the form of the questions, but the bottom line is that our accountability groups are designed to discover or prevent sin.  Remember the character in the movie, “Monsters, Inc.” that said, “I am watching, always watching.”?  That is our form of accountability.  However, it is ineffective.  My point is this: if the fact that GOD loves me, gave HIS SON for me, and at this moment is actually IN AND WITH me does not keep me from sin...your accountability questions will not either.

I guess what I am trying to say is that accountability, like we teach and preach, is simply NOT in the Bible.  What is in the Bible is us living "one-another' lives...the term one-another is used over fifty times. That is Biblical life is integrated with yours and we see each other, we know each other, we love each other.  We are told to love each other, help each other, pray for each other, carry each other’s burdens, confess our faults to each other, encourage each other, challenge each others, forgive each other…etc..   This is true accountability.  It is living in Christian community with each other.  It is not a weekly small group ministry of a church.  It is not a coffee and a few questions with eye contact.  It is life.  It is fellowshipping.  It is BEING WITH each other.

We do not do that.  What we have done is replaced this life together with a term called “accountability’ and we seek to efficiently squeeze community into a few questions and a frappucino.  Why do we do that?  Why do we think it works?  Why don’t we practice Biblical fellowship instead of unbiblical (not sinful—just not IN the Bible) accountability?

I think that I know the answer.  My opinion is based upon thirty years of ministry and my own busy life.  Fellowship takes time, energy, and effort.  Accountability questions don’t.  Yet, I can still feel good about myself if I have an accountability partner…it means that I am a serious Christian.  So, I have the best of both worlds.  I feel good and do not have to invest my life in others.  Still time for the ball game if you know what I mean.

There are two sad things about this.  The first is that we have allowed a cheap, worthless substitute to take the place of eternal relationships.  The second is that we have actually come to believe that our form of accountability is what the Bible teaches and we judge others based upon it.

I can speak from experience. I had an accountability partner for almost ten years.  We met in the mornings for a cup of coffee and asked each other how we were doing spiritually.  I now have Christian fellowship.  Fellowship wins hands down.  

How about you?  Do you actually invest your life in others, or just go to church and maybe have ‘accountability’?  

Could be time for a change.

Just a thought,



Seth Powell said...

Great blog. Community and unity on mission with Jesus.

Diary of an Autodidact said...


Dianne said...