The Principle of Accountability

I am in South Africa with a team of teacher/facilitators from our ministry, teaching “Five Principles of Unity” in churches there.  Look here for our schedule and how you can be praying for us.  Here is some of what we are teaching:

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. Galatians 6:1

The Principle of Accountability: I have responsibility for my brother’s relationship with God, and he has responsibility for mine.

Imagine a high school football player playing on a Friday night under the lights with all his friends and loved ones sitting in the stands watching.  He’s having the time of his life until BAM…he takes a vicious hit and has some trouble getting up.  The coach and trainer come out to help him and they get him over to the sidelines, where they sit him on the bench and begin to assess the damage.  Ol’ Doc Sullivan, his family doctor, is sitting in the stands and comes down to the sidelines to help.  The boys’ parents come down as well.  This small group of people who love him and take care of him most are all standing in a circle around him and all wince together as they cut off his shoulder pads, revealing a horribly separated shoulder.

This is where the weird part begins.  Everyone of them, parents, coaches, doctor and trainers, all know what needs to happen next.  This shoulder is going to have to be set, and it going to be excruciatingly painful.  Everyone looks at the parents.  “Don’t look at us…we’re just parents.  We have no idea how to do this.  Besides we can’t bear to see him in that much pain.”  The coaches say, “Well it’s certainly not our job.  We make him a football player, somebody else is responsible for this part.”  The trainer says, “I’m just a trainer, not a doctor.  I think the doctor should do it.”  The doctor says, “I don’t really have the kind of relationship with this boy that I think he will need for this.”  And nobody sets the shoulder, because they all have an excuse.

Crazy story, right?  It would never happen in real life.

But it happens every week in churches across America and around the world.  Someone gets horribly Spiritually out of sorts and needs someone to love them enough to do something about it, and everyone has an excuse.  “Leave it to the professionals.”  “I don’t want to jeopardize our friendship.”  “It’s judging, and I don’t want to judge.”  “He/She has a right to privacy, and it’s not my business.”  “I wouldn’t even know where to start.”  Etc., etc.

None of these excuses are the real reasons we don’t confront each other in the church.  The real reason is that we don’t love each other enough to confront each other.  I can see that you are making a series of decisions in your life that move you further away from God and from God’s people, I can see the Spiritual brokenness in your life, and I just do not love you enough to ask you about it.

Let’s not lie to ourselves.  That is the real reason we don’t practice Spiritual accountability with one another, or when we do, we do it in a way to push people away rather than pulling them into fellowship.  When you get right down to it, it is a love problem.

By the same token, when it is done right, when the Biblical model for Christian accountability is honored, it is likewise a result of love.  There is no other valid motive for doing it.

We either love each other enough to do it, or we do not.

© Blake Coffee

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